Treatments for eating disorders
There are many treatment options for eating disorders. The right approach for each individual depends on his or her specific symptoms, issues and strengths, as well as the severity of the disorder. To be most effective, treatment for an eating disorder must address both the physical and psychological aspects of the problem. The goal is to treat any medical or nutritional needs, promote a healthy relationship with food and teach constructive ways to cope with life and its challenges.
Often, a combination of therapy, nutritional counseling and group support works best. In some cases, residential treatment or hospitalization may be necessary.
Psychotherapy – Individual and group therapy can help your loved one explore the issues underlying the eating disorder, improve self-esteem and learn healthy ways of responding to stress and emotional pain. Family therapy is also effective for dealing with the impact the eating disorder has on the entire family unit.
Nutritional counseling – Dieticians or nutritionists are often involved in the treatment of eating disorders. They can help your loved one design meal plans, set dietary goals and achieve a healthy weight. Nutritional counseling may also involve education about basic nutrition and the health consequences of eating disorders.
Support groups – Attending an eating disorder support group can help your loved one feel less alone and ashamed. Run by peers rather than professionals, support groups provide a safe environment to share experiences, advice, encouragement and coping strategies.
- Residential treatment –- Residential or hospital-based care may be required when there are severe physical or behavioral problems, such as a resistance to treatment, medical issues that require a doctor’s supervision or continuing weight loss.
Hospitalization for an eating disorder may be necessary if your loved one is:
- Dangerously malnourished
- Severely depressed or suicidal
- Suffering from medical complications
- Getting worse despite treatment
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