Eating Disorder Therapy

Valuable therapies for treating eating disorders are those that are evidence-based. This article explains that eating disorder therapy needs to fit the particular type of eating disorder, as well as co-existing conditions.  Keep reading for more on eating disorder therapy.

Background on Eating Disorder Therapy

Just as with other types of therapy, eating disorder therapy should involve a method proven to be effective with the particular eating disorder in question, but at the same time, fit the patient as much as possible. For the first qualification mentioned, it is important to know that different eating disorders respond well to different treatments. In addition, the most suitable treatment is - in some cases - related to age and gender, as well as other factors. Since an eating disorder is often concomitant with depression - either causing depression or the result of depression - it is important that a treatment plan be developed that accounts not just for the eating disorder but also for any co-occuring issues.

Eating Disorder Therapy for Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is acknowledged to be difficult to cure. The sufferer has a negative self-image despite what may be a normal body weight. Purging after extreme caloric intake may be accomplished by self-induced vomiting, the misuse of laxatives, or over-exercising.

The estimates of the recovery rate from Bulimia Nervosa range from 31% to 74%. Relapse is common, and Bulimia Nervosa not infrequently develops into an Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (see below). Depression and personality disorders commonly accompany Bulimia.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment discovered so far for Bulimia Nervosa, whether provided in an individual or group setting. Succeeding better than interpersonal therapy in this instance, it is usually provided in sessions over 4 to 5 months, and meeting frequency being between once and twice a week. It is estimated to be up to 50% effective.

Eating Disorder Therapy for Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa recovery is partly dependent on the age of the patient. Patients often fear not only becoming fat but also losing control, and their determination to restrict their diets - which often results in their weighing only 85% of the expected weight for someone of their height - often has a rebound effect with 50% binging. About half the patients treated for Anorexia Nervosa recover, but some sustain various types of damage to their bodies, mood, and behavior by long-term under-nutrition, and consequently may require inpatient treatment for their health prior to any other considerations being addressed.

Recently, the Maudsley model of family therapy, conducted over 6 to 12 months, has been seen to bring a higher recovery rate for young patients. This eating disorder therapy begins by transferring responsibility for the patient’s eating and weight back to the parents, until it can safely be returned to the child. When conducted by the book, the Maudsley model results in 90% symptom-free patients after 5 years. The fact that this is by far the most effective treatment, means that quick identification and early treatment of this disorder is the best possible chance for a good outcome.

Eating Disorder Therapy for Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified

This most common of the eating disorders diagnoses is actually a collection. Ironically, Binge Eating Disorder (eating a very large amount with the compensatory measures of Bulimia Nervosa) - one of the group - is far more widespread than Anorexia Nervosa and is the eating disorder that most affects males. Often associated with psychosocial issues and/or depression, it is successfully treated in 50% of cases by CBT (though successful treatment for the disorder may not include weight loss. Interpersonal therapy is also used.

Related Article: Treatment for Eating Disorders >>