While eating is one of the most important methods to survive, as it the fuel for the body, there are people who have issues related to eating. While some tend to avoid food, others tend to overeat and some tend to binge on certain types of foods. The two extremes of avoiding food and overeating, known as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa respectively are the most common types of eating disorders. In both cases, it is not just about food.
In each of the individual with an eating disorder, there is always an underlying psychological problem, depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. As the eating disorder is just one of the manifestations, the underlying problem needs to be addressed for the eating disorder to completely disappear. Else, there are chances that it may resurface again in a while. Treating an eating disorder requires various approaches in addition to just managing the eating pattern. Read on to know the most common five methods.
- Nutritional counselling: In people with eating disorders, the person begins to believe that he/she is eating a healthy diet. The counsellor tries to break this belief and instil healthy eating habits. This helps in complete recovery and is essential for the long-term success of treating the disorder. In some severe cases, even the family members may be involved in this counselling.
- Psychotherapy: This again helps the affected individual understand the reason behind the altered eating patterns. Exploring the causes and understanding the disorder helps prevent relapse after initial treatment. Additionally, strained relationships, anxiety, depression, and stress management are also addressed through psychotherapy. Success of treating an eating disorder often lies in managing the coexisting mental conditions.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This is one of the main modalities of treating an eating disorder and it is a very structured program. It might sometimes involve the close family members also and addresses unhealthy thought patterns that lead to the disorder. The person becomes aware of why he/she is eating abnormally and tries to make a conscious change to it.
- Co-Medical conditions: In patients with anorexia, the consciously reduced food intake can have severe effects on the other body organs including anaemia, low blood pressure, fatigue, vital organ failure, and overall low energy levels. A thorough evaluation and treatment to manage these conditions are essential before putting the person on a course correction of the eating disorder.
- Medications: Medications are essential to not treat the eating disorder per se, but to manage the other conditions. Whether it is medical conditions like anaemia and low blood pressure or psychological conditions like anxiety or depression, medications are used to manage these.
In more severe cases, the person may be required to undergo a residential program to overcome abnormal eating tendencies.
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