Treatment varies according to type and severity of eating disorder, and usually more than one treatment option is utilized. However, there is lack of evidence regarding treatment and management, which means that current views about treatment are based mainly on clinical experience. Therefore, before treatment takes place, family doctors will play an important role in early treatment of those with eating disorders and a lot will depend on trying to establish a good relationship with the person and family in primary care. Some of the treatment methods include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Postulates that an individual’s feelings and behaviors are caused by their own thoughts instead of external stimuli such as other people, situations or events; the idea is to change how a person thinks and reacts to a situation even if the situation itself does not change
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Family therapy:”Conjoint family therapy” (CFT), “separated family therapy” (SFT) and Maudsley Family Therapy
- Behavioral therapy: Focuses on gaining control and changing unwanted behaviors
- Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT)
- Cognitive Emotional Behaviour Therapy (CEBT)
- Music Therapy
- Recreation Therapy
- Art therapy
- Nutrition counseling and Medical nutrition therapy
- Medication: Orlistat is used in obesity treatment. Olanzapine seems to promote weight gain as well as the ability to ameliorate obsessional behaviors concerning weight gain. Zinc supplements have been shown to be helpful, and cortisol is also being investigated
- Self-help and guided self-help: Support groups and self-help groups such as Eating Disorders Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous
- Inpatient care
There are few studies on the cost-effectiveness of the various treatments. Treatment can be expensive due to limitations in health care coverage, and people hospitalized with anorexia nervosa may be discharged while still underweight, resulting in relapse and rehospitalization.
Outcome estimates are complicated by non-uniform criteria used by various studies, but for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, there seems to be general agreement that full recovery rates are in the 50% to 85% range, with larger proportions of people experiencing at least partial remission.
Eating disorders result in about 7,000 deaths a year as of 2010, making them the mental illnesses with the highest mortality rate.