Identifying the cause of the eating disorder
Once the body has been stabilised, eating disorder treatment can move on to address the psychological and emotional causes of the eating disorder. This can take the form of several different types of therapy, including:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – in which the patient talks one-to-one with a therapist about how emotions and feelings affect food choices
Interpersonal Therapy – in which the patient talks about their relationships in general, how they see themselves, and how they think others see them
Family Therapy – eating disorders will have a huge impact on other family members, particularly concerned parents who feel out of control of their child’s eating. Family therapy helps bring everyone together to help each other
Group Therapy – sharing experiences with others in a similar situation can often make the problem seem easier to deal with and less isolating
Often these therapies will focus on finding the triggers for the eating disorder and establishing new ways for the patient to deal with those situations. In some cases, therapy is supported by anti-depressant or anti-psychotic drugs.
The final stage of eating disorder treatment involves nutritional therapy. This involves re-educating the individual about the value of food and teaching them how to eat a balanced diet. This will help them to develop a new, more positive relationship with food by helping them to effectively manage their weight without constant dieting.
Recovering from an eating disorder can be a long and arduous process as a whole series of behaviours has to be adjusted, and a new mindset established. As many as 30% of patients who appear to have recovered will relapse in the first year. However, like any addiction, admitting the problem in the first place will have been a huge positive step, and subsequent treatments will be easier and more effective.
From helping the individual to see that they have a problem in the first place, assisting them to overcome their negative behaviours on a day to day basis, to helping them regain their self confidence and self esteem, the support of friends and family is essential for someone with an eating disorder.
There are many websites, forums and support groups that can help families to cope with the pressures this brings. The individual is not on his or her own with their problem, and neither are their families.