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Treatments for Eating Disorders
People with an eating disorder may not know or admit there is a problem. The person must want to get help and make changes. Getting help may take a long time. Treatment depends on how serious the problems are. Relapse is common and part of the process of getting better. It often happens during times of stress.
The good news is, these disorders can be treated. The sooner this happens, the lower the risk of having long term health problems. Serious cases may need to be treated in a hospital first. Common methods use medicines and counseling.
Each eating disorder has different problems. However, common treatment goals are:
- Returning to a normal weight safely and fixing nutrition problems. A dietitian will help plan healthful meals.
- Stopping harmful, compulsive, or repetitive behaviors.
- Treating health problems caused by the eating disorder—both mental and physical.
- Finding the causes of problems with food and making changes.
- Getting counseling—may be alone, in a group, and with the family.
- To learn the signs of relapse—to help prevent it.
Eating disorders are treated with one or more of:Lifestyle changesMedicationsAlternative and complementary therapiesOther treatments
There is no surgery to treat eating disorders.
Anorexia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/anorexia-nervosa. Accessed April 6, 2022.
Binge eating disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/binge-eating-disorder. Accessed April 6, 2022.
Bulimia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/bulimia-nervosa. Accessed April 6, 2022.
Eating disorders: About more than food. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders. Accessed April 6, 2022.
Eaton CM. Eating disorder recovery: a metaethnography. J Am Psychiatr Nurses Assoc. 2020;26(4):373-388.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
- Update Date: 04/05/2022