People with eating disorders often do not recognize or admit that they are ill. As a result, they may strongly resist starting and staying in treatment. Family members or other trusted people can help to ensure that the person with an eating disorder receives needed care and rehabilitation. For some people, treatment may be long term.
Eating disorders can be successfully treated and a healthful weight restored. The sooner your disorder is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcomes are likely to be. Because of their complexity, eating disorders require a comprehensive treatment plan. Treatment involves medical care and monitoring, psychosocial interventions, nutrition counseling, and, when appropriate, medication management.

- Treatment of anorexia calls for a specific program that involves three main phases:
- Restoring you to a healthful weight and keeping you there
- Treating psychological disturbances such as distortion of body image, low self-esteem, and interpersonal conflicts
- Achieving long-term remission and rehabilitation or full recovery

Early diagnosis and treatment increase your chances of a positive outcome. Your health care provider may consider prescribing medication for you, but only after you have gained an appropriate amount of weight. A healthful weight is above 85%, but not necessarily as high as 100%, of your ideal weight. To achieve this weight, your intake of calories will be gradually increased.

If your weight loss is severe, care will likely be provided in an inpatient hospital setting. In a hospital, health care providers will develop feeding plans to address your medical and nutrition needs. In some cases, intravenous feeding is recommended. Once malnutrition has been corrected and weight gain has begun, you may receive psychotherapy (often cognitive-behavioral or interpersonal psychotherapy) to help you overcome low self-esteem and address distorted thought and behavior patterns. Families are sometimes included in the therapeutic process.


The primary goals of treatment for bulimia are:
- To stop bingeing
- To stop purging, in the case of bulimia
- To focus self-esteem away from body image and shape

Bulimia and binge eating disorder are treated with nutrition rehabilitation, psychosocial intervention, and medication management strategies. Treatment includes establishing a pattern of regular, non-binge meals, improving your attitude related to the eating disorder, and encouraging regular but not excessive exercise. Any co-occurring conditions such as mood or anxiety disorders should be treated as well. You may benefit from family or marital therapy.

Treatment of eating disorders involves the following:
- Lifestyle changes
- Medications
- Alternative and complementary therapies
- Other treatments

This material is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the medical advice of your doctor or any other health care professional. Always consult with your physician if you are in any way concerned about your health.

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