Eating disorders - How are eating disorders treated?
How are eating disorders treated?
It helps to get early treatment for eating disorders. However, you may not want to get help. You may not notice that you are having problems with eating. You may not accept that you have an eating disorder.
Your first step for getting help is to go to your GP. They can refer you to a specialist service or for therapy if you need this. If your body weight is very low, doctors will focus on increasing your weight before starting any therapy. You may stay in hospital or a specialist facility depending on your weight.
There are different types of treatments for eating disorders, and you may be offered a combination of these.
Therapy is often an important part of eating disorder treatments. This may include counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), group therapy, and family therapy.
Mental health services have developed special forms of CBT for bulimia and binge eating disorder. You should be able to access these through the NHS. The type of treatment for you will depend on your age, weight and situation.
The family of someone with an eating disorder may be involved in treatment. This is particularly important with children and young people.
Sometimes doctors will give you medication, such as antidepressants. However, it should not be the only treatment you are getting for your eating disorder.
What treatment should I be offered?
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) writes guidelines on how the NHS should treat eating disorders. Doctors do not legally have to follow this guidance but it is best practice if they do. There has to be a good reason for them not to follow the guidelines. Knowing about the guidelines can help you make sure you get the right treatment.
The NICE guidelines recommend that doctors should treat people with an eating disorder should:
be fully checked for their physical, psychological and social needs, have a risk assessment and be reviewed for risk factors during treatment, and be treated as early as possible.
These guidelines recommend that if you have anorexia or bulimia you should be offered psychological therapy. This should be intensive CBT if you have bulimia. Family therapy is recommended for young people with eating disorders.
You can find the full guidelines here.
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