Eating is the only means of refueling our body in order to stay active. However, the act of eating may sometimes be associated with deep seated fears and feelings of inadequacy. Both over eating as well as eating abnormally small amounts can be characterized as eating disorders. Bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa are two of the most well known eating disorders that one hears of. While the presence of such disorders indicates a deeply disturbed mind, there may be underlying physical reasons for such disorders as well. It is, therefore, imperative to go for a complete check up (physical as well as psychological) before any treatment procedure can be initiated.
Most experts agree on the efficacy of counseling once the physical causes of eating disorders can be safely negated. Running various psychometric tests including Eating and Body attitude tests along with employing the SCOFF questionnaire are time tested methods of arriving at a proper diagnosis and starting the treatment process according to the results found.
There are a number of psychological treatments attempted for a person with eating disorder though. Some of the most commonly used practices include:
Cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) – This form of therapy helps the patient to minimize his/her negative attitude about food and the process of eating. It is also used to help the patient dissociate the sense of failure from eating and to think about food in a healthy way, not as a means to combat disappointments. CBT is usually time bound and can be helpful only if the patient has concrete issues that requires to be addressed promptly.
Family Counseling – Involving the entire family is an accepted form of treatment particularly when the person concerned has an unhealthy attitude towards food. Communication between the family members are encouraged in these counseling sessions and the counselor tries to make other members of the family acknowledge and accept the problem while helping the patient to overcome it with patience and understanding.
Nutrition Counseling – A registered dietician is usually roped in to tackle the issues of nutrition here. He/she formulates a special diet that is nutrient dense and can be easily swallowed and digested so that the patient remains physically healthy and able to focus on getting rid of the problem effectively.
Inpatient Care– The patient may sometimes be admitted into a hospital especially when the disorder is severe enough to cause physical problems.
Eating disorders are known to be effectively treated in 50% to 85% of the cases with the rest having a good chance of partial remission as well.