Treatments like CBT can really help overcome the initial hurdles of getting treatment for an eating disorder like anorexia, and the right clinician will provide the right level of support and encouragement you need to embark on the recovery process.
There are various treatment routes that can be used effectively to help treat eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, binge eating or orthorexia. Finding the right treatment will depend on a few factors including:
Despite the difficulties and distress an eating disorder can cause, there is often a lot of reluctance to seek help and treatment for them. Those with an eating disorder may feel that their eating disorder helps them manage other pressures or life challenges.
Even when they feel motivated and committed to recovery, the entrenched thoughts and anxiety, guilt, shame and other strong emotions that come with an eating disorder can make change slow and difficult.
Although the research is limited, factors that have been shown to contribute to successful long-term recovery from anorexia include patients’ weight at the beginning of treatment, how long they have been ill prior to treatment and their ability to regain and then maintain a healthy weight. These findings suggest the importance of seeking help for anorexia as quickly as possible and engaging as fully as possible in the nutritional as well as psychological components of treatment.
It can take huge courage to seek help for an eating disorder. It’s common for people to think that they aren’t ‘ill enough’ or they will be fine once a period of stress has finished. If you think you may have, or be developing, an eating disorder, it is really important to seek help as early as possible. Research shows that early intervention is one of the most important factors in preventing the illness from becoming chronic.
We also know that the sooner treatment begins following an individual coming forward to ask for help, the better the outcome – it’s very common for eating disorders to become a lot worse whilst on a waiting list to start treatment1.
Regardless of the factors that may have triggered a person’s eating disorder, symptoms can become self-reinforcing and intensify quickly, taking on a life of their own. It is thus very important to seek help as early as possible.
Dr Charlie Baily - PhD, CPsychol
We believe in treating the individual
People with eating disorders have come to their struggles via many different paths. Understanding the different factors contributing to a given person’s illness is key to ensuring that the right treatment plan is put in place.
The most effective treatment plans will consider:
• Individuals’ needs and preferences
• Family, social and work circumstances
• Other mental health conditions
• Previous experiences
They will provide some flexibility in their approach, as recovery from eating disorders isn’t a standardised or linear process.
I can’t thank you enough – the therapy has been life changing and the therapist was so warm and kind, I never once felt ashamed or embarrassed.
Treating the individual
There isn’t a one size fits all approach to treating eating disorders – the most effective treatment occurs when it is tailored to the individual and they are confident in the approach adopted.
Therapy, medication or a combination of both are the most effective ways of helping overcome an eating disorder.
1. Therapy for eating disorders
Therapy is an integral part of treating eating disorders. Among other things, it can help people:
CBT focuses on the relationship between negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours. By identifying underlying unhelpful beliefs, attitudes and emotions, a psychologist or other CBT therapist works with people to develop strategies to help them adopt healthier and more constructive behaviours.
CBT has been found to be one of the most effective treatments for people with binge eating disorder. One study found that after 20 sessions of CBT, 80% of patients were no longer bingeing and of these, 60% were successfully not bingeing a year later2.
Many people with an eating disorder will also have another mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression, that compounds their distress and affects their ability to engage successfully in eating disorder treatment.
Starting medication, for instance an antidepressant, may be necessary in order to help the individual benefit from other, psychological interventions.