Treatments for eating disorders

There are different types of psychological treatments for eating disorders and you may be offered a combination of them. Medication should only be offered alongside other treatments.

Physical treatments like acupuncture, weight training and yoga should not be offered as treatment for eating disorders.

Guided self-help programme

You will look at the thoughts, feelings and actions that you have in relation to eating. You should also have some support sessions to help you follow the programme.

Psycho-education

This means you will learn about your symptoms and how to manage them.

Treatments for anorexia

The key goal when treating anorexia is to reach a healthy weight. Your weight will be monitored and possibly shared with your family members and carers.

Individual eating-disorder-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT-ED)

This is long-term individual therapy. It aims to reduce risk to your physical health by teaching you about nutrition and new ways to think about food, your body image and self-esteem. You will be asked to monitor what you are eating and how this makes you feel.

There are also CBT-ED programmes for bulimia and for binge eating disorder. There will be differences in the length of the therapy depending on which diagnosis you have.

Group eating-disorder-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT-ED)

Group CBT-ED is used to help treat binge eating disorder. It aims to help you monitor your eating behaviour, and identify and learn how to cope with triggers for bingeing. It will help you to change negative beliefs you have about your body.

Maudsley anorexia nervosa treatment for adults (MANTRA)

This type of therapy teaches you about nutrition and how to change your behaviour, once you’re ready. It will involve your family members and carers, to help you understand your condition, the problems it causes and how to change your behaviour.

Specialist supportive clinical management (SSCM)

This type of therapy aims to help you recognise the link between your symptoms and eating behaviours. It educates and advises you on nutrition and allows you to decide what else should be included in your therapy.

Eating-disorder-focused focal psychodynamic therapy (FPT)

You will only be offered FPT if individual CBT-ED, MANTRA or SSCM hasn’t worked, or if your doctor thinks that the other therapies shouldn’t be used.

FPT is long-term therapy looking at what your symptoms mean to you, how they affect you and how they affect your relationships with other people. It examines the beliefs, values and feelings you have about yourself, and helps you to take what you learn into everyday life.

Admission to a clinic

You may need to go to hospital if a doctor or care team feels you are very unwell, if other treatments haven’t worked, or if your environment is making it difficult for you to stay well. You will receive different types of support and treatments including:

  • Dieticians
  • Specialist nurses
  • Psychotherapists
  • Talking therapies
  • Group therapies
  • Medication
  • Refeeding – This is being given food with the aim of bringing your weight up to a healthy level.

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