Eating disorder treatment

Overall, eating disorder treatment is becoming increasingly important as the numbers of people diagnosed with illnesses such as bulimia and anorexia continues to rise.

The two illnesses are quite different:

  • Bulimia is characterized by cycles of eating too much in a short period of time (binge-eating), followed by feelings of shame because of the overeating. Bulimics then find ways of ridding themselves of the food by vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics, excessive exercise, fasting, or a combination of these.

    Click here for more on eating disorder treatments for bulimia.

  • Anorexia present quite differently. Anorexics have a distorted notion of their body shape and image, seeing themselves as too fat no matter how thin they are, and thus try to avoid or limit eating and/or over-exercise. As a result they become very underweight.

Eating disorder treatments involve a number of different approaches:

  • Healthy eating: Learning about healthy consumption patterns and sensible weight control is essential, so that patients can learn to enjoy three healthy meals per day.

  • Drugs: Drugs such as Prozac are sometimes prescribed in the short-term, and these can help reduce bingeing and purging. There is no clear evidence that they provide effective long-term help for these issues, however.

  • Therapy: There are various forms of talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which are effective. In CBT patients can talk through issues that bother them these are often what lies at the heart of their illness.

Other therapies include Interpersonal therapy (IPT), which examines their relationships with other people, and self-help groups, which provide the opportunity to talk to other people who have been through the same thing.

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