Eating disorders comprise a range of psychological conditions characterised by unhealthy eating habits. There are a variety of symptoms such as a severe restriction of food, food binges or purging behaviour like vomiting or over-exercising. They might start with an obsession with food, body weight or body shape. Eating disorders are most often reported in adolescents and young women. Interventions often include the following:
Psychological therapy is a significant element in treating eating disorders. Therapy may last from a few months to years. It can enable the individual to develop problem-solving skills, improve their mood, monitor their eating habits and engage in a healthy exercise schedule.
A combination of different types of therapy can also be helpful. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps an individual focus on their behaviour, thoughts and feelings that are not helpful and replace them with more adaptive and healthy thinking patterns. Family-based therapy involves family members learning to help the person restore healthy eating patterns and achieve a healthy weight especially when the person affected is an adolescent. For example, the therapist may ask an individual to keep a food journal that can help identify triggers that cause one to binge.
A nutritionist can help an individual better understand their eating disorder and develop a plan to maintain healthy eating habits. This may include learning to work towards a healthy weight, practicing meal planning and establishing regular eating patterns.
Medications such as antidepressants can help with the mood and anxiety symptoms that accompany eating disorders. Yet another form may be through intravenous feeding to deal with medical and nutritional needs in case of severe weight loss.
Eating disorders can also trigger other health problems (such as low bone density, dental cavities, menstruation-related difficulties in women) due to inadequate nutrition and other factors. These conditions may also require simultaneous treatment.