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What Are the Treatment Options?

Learn about eating disorder treatment options from Allegra Broft, M.D. in this Howcast video.


The good news is that there really are a variety of types of eating disorder treatment options, and of course treatment options vary depending on the specific type of eating disorder that a person is struggling with. Treatment can look like anything from anything like what you might typically imagine - outpatient meeting with an individual therapist once a week, talking through the types of things that are going on with the eating problem; up to more frequent meetings with an individual therapist, maybe twice a week; up to putting together a multi-disciplinary treatment team involving a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a nutritionist and an internal medicine doctor to monitor medical status; and then going to even more structured options, including programs like day-treatment programs. For the most structured or intensive type of treatment, there are also residential treatment options where you stay overnight at a treatment center for several days, or even several weeks or months, and inpatient treatment, which might even be at an inpatient psychiatric hospital.

Within all of that, there are a variety of different types of therapy modalities, as well. Cognitive behavioral therapy for eating disorders is one of the most extensively studied types of treatment across a variety of different types of eating problems. For bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and other types of eating problems, there's really good, strong evidence that cognitive behavioral approaches can be of help. You will hear, see and experience many other types of therapies as well, many of which can also be useful. Things like IPT, inter-personal therapy, can be helpful in some cases - and there's good scientific evidence for its helpfulness in bulimia, for example - to DBT, dialectical behavioral therapy.

The fact is that there is probably no one treatment formula that is guaranteed to work for any one person. Sometimes it takes trial and error to figure out what types of treatment approaches might work best for you, or the person struggling with an eating problem.

Medications can also sometimes be of help. Medications including certain types of medications that are also used as anti-depressants can also be helpful for certain types of eating problems, but that's not the only class, and consultation with a physician can be of help in determining whether medication is a component that can be helpful for your particular type of eating problem.

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