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Treatment for Eating Disorder

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Eating disorders (including anorexia and bulimia) are serious illnesses which require professional intervention in order to promote long-term recovery and well being.

Eating disorders are complex, and treatment may involve a team approach. Although the individual with an eating disorder may appear to be overly focused on food, body weight, and a refusal to eat, the actual issues go much deeper. It is important to work through the underlying concerns that have contributed to the person using their eating disorder as a coping strategy.

The First Step: Restore Weight

The first step in the treatment of an eating disorder is to restore weight, and ensure that any physical problems are taken care of. A nutritional specialist may need to work with the person suffering from the eating disorder to ensure that an adequate amount of food energy is being consumed in order to maintain a healthy weight.

A therapist or counselor can also help by talking with the person who has an eating disorder, and assisting them to identify negative thoughts and body image distortions. Eating disorder treatment also involves replacing unhealthy coping strategies (such as binging, purging, or starving oneself) with non-destructive ways of dealing with stressful situations.

Often, people who suffer from eating disorders need help working through relationship issues and/or dealing with anxiety. Long-term treatment goals may include stress management, increasing self-esteem, and working through difficult emotions and feelings.

Some individuals with eating disorders may require hospitalization at first to stabilize their condition, or more intense intervention through a residential facility. Long-term therapy usually takes place on an outpatient basis.