Treating eating disorders

Ifan eating disorder isn'ttreated, it can have a negative impact on someone's job or schoolwork, and can disrupt relationships with family members and friends. The physical effects of an eating disorder can sometimes be fatal.

Treatment for eating disorders is available, although recovery can take a long time. It's importantthat the person affectedwants to get better, and the support of family and friends is invaluable.

Treatment usually involves monitoring a person's physical health while helping them deal with the underlying psychological causes. This may involve:

  • using self-help manuals and books, possibly under guidance from a therapist or another healthcare professional
  • cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) therapy that focuses on changing how a person thinks about a situation, which in turn will affect how they act
  • interpersonal psychotherapy a talking therapy that focuses on relationship-based issues
  • dietary counselling a talking therapy to help a person maintain a healthy diet
  • psychodynamic therapy orcognitive analytic therapy (CAT) therapy that focuses on how a person's personality and life experiences influence their current thoughts, feelings, relationships and behaviour
  • family therapy therapy involving the family discussing how the eating disorder has affected them and their relationships
  • medication for example, a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be used to treat bulimia nervosa or binge eating

There's a range of other healthcare services that can help, such as support and self-help groups, and personal and telephone counselling services. See the "Useful links" section on this page for more information.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018