HEALTH and WELLNESS
When considering treatments for an eating disorder, it is important to understand that different people respond to different types of treatment, even if they are experiencing the same eating disorder.
The evidence-based treatments listed below have been found to be effective for eating disorders. Typically, these treatments are not stand-alone treatments and a person with an eating disorder will usually receive a combination of treatments as part of their recovery program. Some treatments are better suited to specific eating disorders than others and a multidisciplinary approach to treatment is often the best way to treat an eating disorder.
However, taking the first steps towards treatment can be challenging. A person with an eating disorder may feel stressed, nervous, anxious, embarrassed, ashamed or scared as they enter the treatment and recovery phase. Some may still be in denial about their problem, while others may feel like they have their disorder under control, even when they don’t.
Seeking help as early as possible greatly reduces the severity, duration and impact of an eating disorder. If you notice any warning signs or symptoms, whether in yourself or someone you care for, you should seek professional help straight away, rather than waiting for the illness to progress.
You can find a local support organization or get further help by phoning the National Helpline.
Emphasis during psychotherapy is placed on thoughts, emotions, behaviors, patterns of thinking, motivations and relationships. It can include models such as Cognitive Analytic Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).
Psychotherapy will usually be conducted by a psychologist. However, other professionals such as medical doctors, psychotherapists and counselors can use certain aspects of psychotherapy to treat someone with eating disorder.
Family approaches are most common when adolescents, young adults and children are suffering from an eating disorder.
Family approaches will involve the primary family or support network of the person with the eating disorder during treatment. The aim of a family approach is to treat the person with the eating disorder, while also supporting and educating the entire family about how to provide appropriate care. Focus can also be placed on strengthening family relationships and improving the family dynamic.
Self-help approaches are carried out by the person who is suffering from the eating disorder and often involves forms of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Self-help treatments can be useful, however, they are most effective when combined with other treatment approaches that are provided by professionals and clinicians. Patients who only adopt self-help approaches and ignore or reject other forms of medical treatment may not recover from their eating disorder and may also be at high risk of recurrence or relapse.
Nutritional management approaches are provided by a dietitian or nutritionist during treatment. They can also sometimes be provided by a GP. This approach has been designed to ensure that the person with the eating disorder is receiving the right level of vitamins and minerals throughout the treatment process and to help develop normal and beneficial eating habits and behaviors.
Medication-based approaches are often vital when someone with an eating disorder also has another type of disorder or illness, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia or psychosis. This is known as a co-morbid disorder. In situations like this, consultation to family physicians/primary clinics/physicians becomes vital and necessary.
Medications can be prescribed by family practitioners/ family doctors/medical doctors and GPs and could be used in conjunction with another treatment.