Eating Disorders. What They Are and Treatment Options


If you think you might have an eating disorder, consider talking to someone about it. Having a conversation is the first step to finding treatment and feeling better.

Finding treatment and feeling better.

If you think you might have an eating disorder, consider talking to someone about it. Having a conversation is the first step to finding treatment and feeling better.

Eating Disorders South Africa has resources on how to talk to a loved one or friend, how to find help for yourself, and how to help others in need. If you’re worried about telling someone, try writing them a letter — it can be easier than having the conversation in person.

When eating disorders go untreated

Eating disorders are serious conditions that can have adverse effects on your health and well-being. They can also be fatal in some cases.

Help is available if you or someone you know has an eating disorder. The longer the symptoms go untreated, the harder it may be to recover. When left untreated, eating disorders can lead to serious medical complications, including heart problems and kidney failure. Some eating disorders can be fatal.

Talk therapy

Talk therapy is often an important element of treatment for eating disorders. It involves meeting with a trained therapist who specializes in treating these conditions. This kind of psychotherapy can help you identify unhealthy thoughts and actions that may be causing your eating disorder symptoms and teach you better ways to deal with them.

If your loved one is struggling with anorexia, bulimia, or another serious eating disorder, it’s important to get professional help right away. Anorexia and other types of disordered eating can lead to serious health complications if not treated early on, so the sooner your friend or loved one starts therapy, the better!

Medication is not effective on its own to treat eating disorders

Medication is not effective on its own to treat eating disorders, but medication might help you as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes talk therapy, nutrition counselling, and other types of support.

Your doctor will work with you to determine what specific medications are best for your particular situation.

If you’re interested in taking medication for an eating disorder, it’s important to discuss the possible side effects with your doctor before beginning treatment. Medication can help manage some symptoms of an eating disorder, but it isn’t a substitute for therapy or self-care strategies that teach better habits and coping skills.

Family therapy

Family therapy can help loved ones understand how an eating disorder affects people psychologically, physically, and socially so that everyone can provide better support for treatment and recovery.

People with eating disorders often feel alone because they don’t want to talk about their problems or seek help from family members who might not understand what they’re going through. But a trained therapist can assist families in managing the unique challenges of living with someone who has an ED.

A psychiatrist or eating disorder specialist 

The following treatments are often used to treat eating disorders:

  • Medications People with binge eating disorders may find antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) helpful. Serotonin is a brain chemical that helps regulate mood and appetite. SSRIs might also reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, which can sometimes trigger or worsen eating disorders. If you have bulimia and feel anxious when you stop purging, anti-anxiety medications might be helpful in reducing your stress level while you focus on getting better. Antipsychotic drugs may be used to treat anorexia in people who are having psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and delusions because they are too thin or starving.
  • Therapy. A combination of individual therapy sessions with a therapist specially trained in treating eating disorders combined with group therapy sessions where participants discuss the challenges of living with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorders can provide important benefits for recovery from an eating disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), family therapy, group psychotherapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy are all effective ways to treat adults with binge-eating disorders (BED) who are also obese. This is better than just managing weight loss or shedding pounds safely at home without professional help if needed.


Eating disorders can be serious condition that requires professional treatment. If you think you may have an eating disorder or are concerned about someone else who does, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. The sooner you start treatment, the better chance you have of recovering from this serious illness.

More on eating disorders: Anorexia and bulimia


Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that affect millions of people. Eating disorders can be persistent and lead to significant health problems. People with eating disorders have distorted body images, which cause them to obsess about the way their bodies look or feel. This can lead them to either over-exercise or under-eat in an attempt to control their weight or shape.

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by self-starvation, excessive exercise, and a fear of gaining weight. People with bulimia nervosa binge on large quantities of food and then purge by vomiting, using laxatives or diuretics (water pills that cause you to urinate more), fasting, over-exercising or taking diet pills/drugs/herbs.

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that affects the way you think about food, your body and yourself. The main symptom involves restricting how much food you eat for a long period of time. This can cause malnutrition and, in some cases, death. Anorexia is often accompanied by other problems, such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Anorexics tend to have distorted body images; they may think they’re fat even when they’re very thin. Some anorexics also feel a great deal of anxiety about gaining weight, even if their bodies are in fact underweight. Some people with anorexia have strong feelings of perfectionism or “being right,” which can make them obsess over things like what kind of food to eat or how much exercise they need to do each day — even though their weight loss doesn’t seem healthy or normal compared to other people’s behavior patterns!

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating followed by purging. Binge eating is defined as eating a large amount of food in a short period of time. Purging is the use of laxatives, vomiting, or other methods to get rid of food after eating.

Bulimia nervosa often involves cycles of fasting (not eating) and then overeating followed by self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, or fasting again to compensate for the calories consumed during the binge-eating episode.

Binge-eating disorder

Binge-eating disorder (BED) is a type of eating disorder in which people have recurrent episodes of excessive food intake—often in secret, and frequently feeling guilty or embarrassed afterwards. To be diagnosed with BED, you’ll need to eat more than what’s considered “normal” for you. You may also feel out of control while eating and be very distressed about your behavior.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking is defined as having 5+ alcoholic drinks per occasion for men and 4+ alcoholic drinks per occasion for women. The NIAAA further defines an “occasion” as being any time within a two-hour period.

Other types of eating disorders

  • People with binge-eating disorders eat large amounts of food in a short period of time, during which they feel that they cannot control their behavior.
  • People who suffer from avoidant or restrictive food intake disorders limit their diet in order to avoid feeling full or experiencing discomfort after eating.
  • People who have pica compulsively eat non-food items such as dirt, chalk, and paint chips.
  • This condition causes people to repeatedly regurgitate and re-chew food before swallowing it again without being aware that they’re doing so. It can lead to weight loss and malnutrition because most people are unable to keep up this habit for long periods of time without becoming sick from it.
  • Night eating syndrome (NES): This condition involves eating a lot of food at night, often when no one else is awake or available for company or conversation; as well as regularly waking up during the night or early morning hours hungry and then consuming high-calorie foods such as cookies or ice cream before falling back asleep until morning (with no awareness of what happened during those few hours).

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are serious diseases.

Anorexia and bulimia are serious diseases, which is why they’re not only about food. They’re also about body image and the pressure that society puts on young people to be a certain way. Sometimes this can lead to dangerous behaviors like anorexia or bulimia, but it doesn’t have to be that way! You can get help for either of these eating disorders—and I’m here with some tips on how you can start healing today.

Nothing will change until you do something about it!


Eating disorders are serious diseases that affect millions of people every year. They can lead to physical and mental health problems as well as early death if left untreated. The best way to avoid these issues is through early detection, treatment, and support services for those affected by these illnesses.


Eating Disorders. What They Are and Treatment Options

Eating Disorders. What They Are and Treatment Options

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