Eating disorders are a serious health condition. While they are not curable, they are often manageable, so they are often treated to help the sufferer cope with their disorder. Treatment centers around recovery and prevention, and varies depending on the particulars of the disorder. There are also a number of self-help methods for people who are in long-term recovery from an eating disorder.
Treatment options for eating disorders
There are several treatment options available to treat eating disorders. Some patients may benefit from inpatient treatment, which provides a structured environment that helps them escape everyday worries and focus on their treatment. Others may prefer outpatient care, which can be a more flexible option for patients who need to maintain school or work commitments. Either option involves counseling sessions held several times per week. Some treatment centers even have specialized tracks for patients who have substance abuse or trauma issues.
Eating disorders may be caused by many factors, such as traumatic events, long-term illnesses, and genetics. In some cases, the person with the disorder may not even realize that they are struggling, but seeking help early can help them recover. A visit to your GP may be helpful, as they can refer you to the appropriate mental health services.
Psychiatrists can be an important part of the treatment team. They can prescribe psychotropic medications to support eating disorder symptoms and behaviors, while simultaneously monitoring the person’s overall health. Additionally, they can help individuals develop a meal plan and address food challenges. A psychologist may also be a good resource for people who want to overcome their eating disorder.
Although eating disorders can be treated at any stage of the illness, early intervention may reduce the length of treatment. Medication is not a cure for eating disorders, but it can be a valuable aid to therapy. Medications may help control urges to binge, purge, and exercise, as well as prevent preoccupations with food and diet. Some people may be able to overcome their eating disorder with the help of medication.
Intensive treatment for eating disorders often includes family therapy. The goal is to make the family environment supportive to the client’s recovery. Even well-meaning family members can sometimes become an obstacle. Psychoeducation can help family members become better partners and a source of support for their loved one. Family members can also be taught how to model healthy eating behaviors and resolve conflicts.
Common medications used to treat eating disorders
Most eating disorders can be managed with the use of therapy and behavioral interventions, but in some cases, medication can make therapy more effective. Psychiatric medications can help with the symptoms of depression and anxiety that often accompany eating disorders. However, psychiatric medications must be prescribed after a thorough diagnostic evaluation by a psychiatrist.
Pharmacotherapy for eating disorders should induce remission of core symptoms within the acute phase of the disorder and prevent relapse over time. It should also be effective in treating psychiatric comorbidities. While there are few clinical studies to support the effectiveness of specific medications, there are some promising results that support the use of pharmacotherapy. For example, the FDA has approved fluoxetine 60 mg per day to treat BN and lisdexamfetamine for BED. Further, open label trials of these drugs are ongoing, so doctors are likely to get a better idea of how effective the medications are.
While medications for eating disorders can be effective in some cases, there are also several risks associated with these medications. For instance, taking these medications may result in gaining weight. This can be a challenge for the individual, who may have lost weight in order to control their disorder. Medications for eating disorders are not a cure for eating disorders and should be used as a last resort, in conjunction with other forms of treatment.
There are many types of antidepressants that can be prescribed to patients with an eating disorder. Fluoxetine, sold under the brand name Prozac, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor that has been proven to reduce binge eating and vomiting. These drugs work best when combined with psychotherapy.
Complications of eating disorders
Eating disorders can have devastating consequences for patients. It is especially important for physicians to be aware of the risks associated with these disorders. Younger patients may be at higher risk for complications, especially if they have symptoms of extreme malnutrition and emaciation. In these cases, the physician must be prepared to admit the patient or seek assistance from local authorities.
The first step in treating an eating disorder is a proper diagnosis. Eating disorders are severe psychological illnesses that often co-occur with other psychiatric conditions. People with eating disorders have trouble focusing on food and can become dangerously underweight. Other symptoms include binge eating, rumination, or purging behaviors.
In many cases, the eating disorder can be life-threatening. Medical treatments can include counseling and outpatient therapy. The goal of treatment is to help the patient regain the ability to eat and lead a normal, healthy life. A primary care physician will be able to determine which type of treatment is right for the individual.
In some cases, severe weight loss leads to bone loss and osteoporosis. People with anorexia may also experience decreased strength. Medical professionals believe this is partly due to decreased levels of testosterone. Other complications can include problems with the pulmonary system. These can cause difficulty breathing and in some cases, even emphysema.
Signs and symptoms of eating disorders
There are many signs and symptoms of eating disorders. Some of these include stopping eating with friends and family members, drinking excessive amounts of water and caffeine, and abstaining from eating at all. Other signs include binge eating of specific foods and vomiting afterward. Individuals with eating disorders also develop new behaviors such as chewing for long periods before swallowing or cutting foods into small portions. In some cases, they even hide their food in napkins.
Some of these eating disorders are more severe than others. Individuals with anorexia nervosa may severely restrict their food intake, while those with bulimia nervosa may binge and purge frequently. Both of these disorders often result in feelings of shame and guilt.
Other signs and symptoms of eating disorders are similar to those of other medical conditions. In some cases, treatment is necessary to change the eating pattern. People with bulimia nervosa may be overweight or slightly underweight, or may have a low body-mass index.
People with eating disorders may also experience other mental health problems or substance use issues. The physician will take a comprehensive medical history and perform physical exams to rule out other illnesses that may be related to eating disorders. A doctor may also perform a kidney function test or an electrocardiogram. In some cases, patients may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches them how to identify negative thoughts and develop coping mechanisms.
Prevention of eating disorders
Prevention of eating disorders is a significant public health goal. However, research into preventative measures is limited compared to the literature on other adolescent health issues. Nonetheless, the existing data provide useful information in the evaluation of the state of the field. Prevention methods have been used in both universal and targeted programs.
Some universal prevention efforts have shown positive results, improving knowledge about eating disorders and changing attitudes toward them. These efforts emphasize peer relationships and increasing self-esteem. These programs also aim to promote cultural change. Middle-school prevention efforts have shown promising results. These programs emphasize empowering peer relationships and developing strong, supportive connections with mentors.
However, a large number of patients with eating disorders suffer from other mental health conditions. These conditions often overlap with their eating disorder symptoms. Some treatments include talk therapy and medication. For instance, Prozac is approved by the FDA to treat depression, panic attacks, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, these treatments are not a cure for the disorder, and patients may experience relapses.
The American Psychiatric Association recommends a combination of medical care and talk therapy for eating disorders. Some psychiatric medications can also help improve eating habits. Many people who suffer from eating disorders also suffer from depression and anxiety. In such cases, psychiatric medication can help them cope with their mental health and prevent a relapse of the disorder.