Eating disorders are serious behavior problems. They include:
- Anorexia nervosa, in which you become too thin, but you don’t eat enough because you think you are fat
- Bulimia nervosa, involving periods of overeating followed by purging, sometimes through self-induced vomiting or using laxatives
- Binge-eating, which is out-of-control eating
Women are more likely than men to have eating disorders. They usually start in the teenage years and often occur along with depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse.
Eating disorders can cause heart and kidney problems and even death. Getting help early is important. Therapy for eating disorders involves monitoring, mental health therapy, nutritional counseling and sometimes medicines.
Psychological counseling (psychotherapy) is generally the most important eating disorder therapy for women. It involves seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist or other mental health counselor on a regular basis. There are different types of eating disorder therapy for women:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of counseling is a short-term, structured eating disorder therapy that helps you address the thoughts, feelings and behaviors related to your eating disorder. It can help you learn to recognize and change distorted thoughts that lead to eating disorder behaviors.
- Interpersonal psychotherapy. Another short-term treatment, interpersonal psychotherapy focuses on resolving relationship issues that contribute to your eating disorder. This type of treatment may be especially helpful if you have depression along with an eating disorder.
- Family-based therapy. With family-based therapy, family members attend counseling sessions. This type of therapy can be especially useful for parents learning how to help a teen with an eating disorder.
- Group cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of eating disorder therapy for women involves meeting with a psychologist or other mental health provider along with others who are diagnosed with an eating disorder. It can help you address thoughts, feelings and behaviors related to your eating disorder, learn skills to manage eating disorder symptoms, and regain healthy eating patterns.
Eating disorder therapy may involve a combination of types of counseling. Your psychologist or counselor may ask you to do homework, such as keep a food journal to review in counseling sessions, and identify triggers that cause you to binge, purge or do other unhealthy eating behavior.
Dietitians and other professionals involved in your eating disorder therapy can help you better understand your eating disorder and help you develop a plan to maintain healthy eating habits. Goals of nutrition education eating disorder therapy generally include:
- Education about how nutrition affects your body
- Meal planning
- Establishing regular eating patterns — generally, three meals a day with regular snacks
- Taking steps to avoid dieting
Nutrition education may involve cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to help you recognize faulty beliefs and thought patterns and understand how your eating disorder causes nutrition issues and physical problems.
Medications may help you follow your eating disorder therapy plan. They’re most effective when combined with psychological counseling. Antidepressants are the most common medications used to treat eating disorders, but depending on the situation, other medications are sometimes prescribed. You may also need to take medications for physical health problems caused by your eating disorder.
There is multiple different eating disorder therapies for women to help with any kind of eating issues you may have. If it gets serious enough you may want to look into attending an inpatient rehabilitation center for eating disorders. Either way eating disorder therapy for women can truly help.