How Are Eating Disorders Treated
Eating disorders are best treated by a team that includes a doctor, dietitian, and therapist. Treatment includes nutrition counseling, medical care, and talk therapy . The doctor might prescribe medicine to treat binge eating, anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns.
The details of the treatment depend on the type of eating disorder and how severe it is. Some people are hospitalized because of extreme weight loss and medical complications.
What Are My Treatment Options
If you think you may have an eating disorder, its important to seek help. Eating disorders can be distressing, uncomfortable, and in some cases, life threatening.
A healthcare professional can provide an accurate diagnosis, refer you to an eating disorder specialist, and suggest treatment options that are best for you.
- medication to treat coexisting conditions
- working with a nutritionist
In therapy, you can work your therapist to address underlying reasons for your eating disorder. A therapist can also support any feelings that come up as you recover.
While there arent specific medications prescribed for eating disorders, meds can help you manage some physical symptoms of eating disorders like constipation. Takings meds may also help with other mental health conditions or symptoms you have, such as depression or anxiety.
Meeting with a nutritionist, in addition to therapy, can help you challenge rigid thoughts around food, body, and weight. They can provide accurate nutritional information to support your recovery. Nutritionists can also create a meal plan that supports your nutritional needs.
You may want to specifically look for a nutritionist who has specializes or has experience with eating disorders.
Some people also receive outpatient treatment, meaning they live at home while working with a treatment team. Others need more intensive care, which sometimes means receiving treatment in a hospital or residential facility .
What Causes Eating Disorders
There’s no single cause for eating disorders. Genes, environment, and stressful events all play a role. Some things can increase a person’s chance of having an eating disorder, such as:
- poor body image
- too much focus on weight or looks
- dieting at a young age
- playing sports that focus on weight
- having a family member with an eating disorder
- mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, or OCD
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Who Does It Affect
Eating disorders can affect anyone, but some people may be at higher risk. People who experience lower self-esteem or poor body image, perfectionism, or difficulties dealing with stress may be more likely to experience an eating disorder. A lack of positive social supports and other important connections may also play a big part. In some cases, eating disorders can go along with other mental illnesses.
Our beliefs around body image are also important. While the media may often portray thinness as an ideal body type, this alone doesnt cause an eating disorder. How we think about those messages and apply them to our lives is what affects our self-esteem and self-worth.
Myth: You Can Always Tell If Someone Has An Eating Disorder
Fact: Even vigilant parents can have a hard time spotting EDs.
Since people with eating disorders typically exhibit a lot of shame, secrecy, and fear about food, patients are often very careful not to engage in those kind of behaviors in front of other people, notes Troneiri.
For example, a person with anorexia nervosa might try to eat normally or eat more in front of friends and family, Tronieri says. Its also hard to tell just by looking at a person that they might have AN, even if they have lost weight. Same with bulimia nervosa: Is this person just naturally thin, or do they have an eating disorder? notes Tronieri. And people with BN can have a normal body mass index or even be overweight, she adds.
Thats why you should never beat yourself up for not realizing that someone you love has an eating disorder.
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What Are The Treatments For Eating Disorders
Treatment plans for eating disorders are tailored to individual needs. You will likely have a team of providers helping you, including doctors, nutritionists, nurses, and therapists. The treatments may include
- Individual, group, and/or family psychotherapy. Individual therapy may include cognitive behavioral approaches, which help you to identify and change negative and unhelpful thoughts. It also helps you build coping skills and change behavioral patterns.
- Medical care and monitoring, including care for the complications that eating disorders can cause
- Nutrition counseling. Doctors, nurses, and counselors will help you eat healthy to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
- Medicines, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, or mood stabilizers, may help treat some eating disorders. The medicines can also help with the depression and anxiety symptoms that often go along with eating disorders.
Some people with serious eating disorders may need to be in a hospital or in a residential treatment program. Residential treatment programs combine housing and treatment services.
NIH: National Institute of Mental Health
More About Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia Nervosa is a life-threatening, serious eating disorder that is classified by restricted eating. Individuals living with Anorexia Nervosa may restrict eating to the point of malnourishment, which leads to damages to both the physical and psychological.
Some of the signs that someone is dealing with Anorexia Nervosa include:
- low or decreasing body weight in relation to a persons height, age, health, and other factors
- excessive exercise
- restrictive eating behaviors like fasting or eliminating certain foods or food groups from diet
- an inability to recognize ones own low body weight, restrictive eating habits, and weight loss
- obsession and fear of gaining weight
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Who Is At Risk Of Getting An Eating Disorder
Eating disorders can affect any age or gender however, women are more often affected, particularly younger women.Anorexia and bulimia can develop at any stage in life, but most often occur during adolescence and early adulthood. Binge eating disorder can occur at any time, but can often start in mid-adulthood. Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder is likely to start in childhood. Any of these disorders can have a serious impact on your health.
People at risk of an eating disorder often have experienced the following:
- having feelings of low self-esteem or worthlessness
- living in a western culture in which being thin is considered the ideal body shape
- living in an urban area
- taking part in activities in which body image is a concern
- having a history of strict dieting and body dissatisfaction
- having lived in an environment in which leanness or obesity has been a concern
- experiencing depression or loneliness
- being a perfectionist or impulsive, or having difficulty managing emotions
- migrating from a developing country to a western culture
- experiencing stressful life changes
- having experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
Unspecified Feeding Or Eating Disorder
Unspecified feeding or eating disorder applies to presentations in which symptoms characteristic of a feeding and eating disorder that cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functions predominate but do not meet the full criteria for any of the disorders in the feeding and eating disorders diagnostic class.
The unspecified feeding and eating disorder category is used in situations in which the clinician chooses not to specify the reason that the criteria are not met for a specific feeding and eating disorder, and includes presentation in which there is insufficient information to make a more specific diagnosis .
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The Effects Of Bulimia On Health
The effects of repeated vomiting include disturbances in the salt balance, disturbances in the menstrual cycle, cardiac arrhythmias and damages to the dental enamel. In addition, the salivary glands of bulimics are usually enlarged and their face may be swollen. Vomiting can also damage the oesophagus and cause abdominal pain and nausea.
People suffering from bulimia relatively often suffer from other mental disorders, as well. The most common disorders are anxiety disorders and DEPRESSION. It has also been noted that bulimics often attempt to harm themselves in other ways, as well, such as by cutting themselves.
How Will An Eating Disorder Impact My Life
In addition to disrupting your day-to-day activities, an eating disorder can affect your mental and emotional health. You might find yourself feeling more anxious about the number of calories you consume or ashamed about your weight. You may start to isolate from friends and family who express concerns about your health, and that isolation can lead to depression.
The physical impact of an eating disorder can be significant. Over time, disordered eating behaviors can damage your digestive tract, skin, bones, and teeth, as well as the functioning of various other organs, such as your heart. Eating disorders have the highest death rate among mental health conditions, especially anorexia. In fact, the risk of early death for those with anorexia is 18 times higher than that of their peers. Thats why early recognition of symptoms and appropriate treatment are essential.
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More About Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
This eating disorder is characterized by restrictive eating behaviors, like not eating certain foods or food groups. And, restricting eating behaviors that dont characterize other types of eating disorders.
Some of the signs and symptoms that someone with ARFID may experience include:
- lacking interest in certain foods or entire food groups
- avoiding foods based on texture or other reason for dislike
- nutritional deficiencies and malnutrition
- weight loss, either extreme amounts or in short periods of time
- negative responses to eating like choking, gagging, or involuntary vomiting
Do You Need More Help
Contact a community organization like the Canadian Mental Health Association to learn more about support and resources in your area.
Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association is the most established, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. Through a presence in more than 330 communities across every province and one territory, CMHA provides advocacy and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive.
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Encourage Them To Seek Professional Help
The most important thing you can do, apart from letting your friend know youre there to help, is to encourage them to seek professional help. The longer an eating disorder is left untreated, the harder it is on their body and mind to recover. Encourage them to see their GP, who can provide a diagnosis and advice on where to get further help.
Do You Have An Eating Disorder
Ask yourself, How much time do I spend thinking about food, weight and body image? Looking at eating disorders in this way puts them on a spectrum, rather than a yes or no question. If you spend so much time with these concerns that it interferes with your happiness or functioning, ANAD is here to help.
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Helping Someone With An Eating Disorder
If you think someone you know has an eating disorder, there are several ways you can talk to them about it and encourage them to get help.
Many people with eating disorders dont seek out treatment on their own. They may feel anxious or ashamed about getting help. They sometimes may not even realize their behavior is harmful.
Speaking with a loved one about your concerns can be difficult. Before approaching them, it can be helpful to:
- Educate yourself on eating disorders. Learn accurate information to help you talk with your loved one.
- Avoid oversimplified solutions. Recovering from an eating disorder isnt about willpower. Its not supportive to tell your loved one to stop bingeing or just eat.
- Avoid judgement. Tell your loved one that having an eating disorder isnt something to be ashamed of. Remind them that recovery is possible.
Helping someone who you think has an eating disorder can be challenging, especially if theyre resistant. You can use this guide from NEDA to learn more about being supportive.
What Is Anorexia Nervosa
People with anorexia nervosa avoid food, severely restrict food, or eat very small quantities of only certain foods. Even when they are dangerously underweight, they may see themselves as overweight. They may also weigh themselves repeatedly.
There are two subtypes of anorexia nervosa: a restrictive subtype and binge-purge subtype.
Restrictive: People with the restrictive subtype of anorexia nervosa place severe restrictions on the amount and type of food they consume.
Binge-Purge: People with the binge-purge subtype of anorexia nervosa also place severe restrictions on the amount and type of food they consume. In addition, they may have binge eating and purging behaviors .
- Brain damage
- Multiorgan failure
Anorexia can be fatal. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. People with anorexia may die from medical conditions and complications associated with starvation by comparison, people with others eating disorders die of suicide.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK , 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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What Is Other Specified Feeding Or Eating Disorder
Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder occurs when someone meets some but not all of the criteria for an eating disorder. There are several categories of OSFED:
- Atypical Anorexia Nervosa occurs when someone exhibits the symptoms of anorexia with a weight at or above a normal range.
- Binge Eating Disorder with episodes that are less frequent or do not occur as long as needed to be formally diagnosed.
- Bulimia Nervosa that is less frequent or did not occur as long as needed for the full diagnosis
- Purging Disorder occurs when someone purges without binge eating.
- Night Eating Syndrome occurs when a person consumes at least 25% of their daily intake after the evening meal.
More About Other Specified Eating Disorder
Individuals who may have some characteristics but not all of Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, or Binge Eating Disorder may receive a diagnosis for Other Specified Eating Disorder, or OSED. Specifically, individuals with OSED may experience one or more symptoms of any of these three eating disorders without displaying the entire characteristics required for a diagnosis of these disorders.
Some of the signs that a person with OSED may display can include a variety of symptoms like:
- all of the same symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa except the individual is within the healthy weight range for his/her health, age, height, etc.
- the same symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa except the individual may experience these symptoms less frequently
- all of the same symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder except the individual may experience these symptoms less frequently
- purging behaviors to prevent weight gain
- experiencing night eating syndrome, which is eating at night after the final meal of the day without control
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Why Do People Get Eating Disorders
Aside from a healthy diet and understanding that the way we see our bodies may not be reflected in reality, we also need to come to some understanding of why we have an eating disorder. Like others with addictions, it may come from a feeling of low self worth, anxiety, lack of confidence in ourselves, or from some trauma, often in childhood . People with eating disorders need to learn to see themselves differently and to get a new way of viewing their life and the possibilities that are offered. For this, as with alcohol, drug and gambling addiction, there is a Fellowship and there is a Twelve Step Programme.
Mental Health Treatment Locator
For more information, resources, and research on mental illnesses, visit the NIMH website at . The National Library of Medicines MedlinePlus website also has information on a wide variety of mental disorders.
For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline at 1800662HELP . SAMHSA also has a Behavioral Health Treatment Locator on its website that can be searched by location.
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Getting Help For Someone Else
It can be difficult to know what to do if you’re worried that someone has an eating disorder.
They may not realise they have an eating disorder. They may also deny it, or be secretive and defensive about their eating or weight.
Let them know you’re worried about them and encourage them to see a GP. You could offer to go along with them.
Getting Help For Eating Disorders At Delray Center For Healing
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above symptoms of all types of eating disorders listed above, there may be an eating disorder issue at hand. Fortunately, professional help through treatment is successful in helping individuals living with eating disorders.
You can get the help you need to live a life free from the negative effects of your disordered eating. Learn more about our outpatient eating disorder services and other offerings at our South Florida treatment location right on our website. And, give us a call today to speak with us confidentially at 888-699-5679.
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What Is Disordered Eating
Disordered eating refers to when you no longer have the usual habits of eating that most people have. This can affect how often you eat, how much you eat, the type of food you eat, how flexible you are around your eating habits and whether you experience pleasure in eating. Depending on the eating disorder, it may involve severe avoidance of eating or purging food you have eaten.If you no longer have a sense of what is normal eating, you can read about healthy eating basics.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
Asking questions and providing information to your doctor or health care provider can improve your care. Talking with your doctor builds trust and leads to better results, quality, safety, and satisfaction. Visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website for tips at www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers.
More information about finding a health care provider or treatment for mental disorders is available on our Finding Help for Mental Illness webpage, available at .
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