Treatment of Eating Disorders
Drugs have not been found to be effective in treating anorexia.
Antidepressant medications (also used in treating anxiety and mood disorders) have been found to be helpful in treating bulimia. They reduce both binge-eating and purging, but the benefits extend only to the short-term.
Cognitive behavioral treatments have been shown to produce good short-term and long-term results in eliminating or reducing bingeing and purging. This therapy focuses on changing both dysfunctional thoughts and problematic eating behaviors.
Behavior therapy, which focuses only on problematic eating behaviors, is not as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy in the short-term or in the long-term.
Interpersonal therapy, which focuses on interpersonal interactions, was not as effective as either cognitive-behavioral therapy or behavior therapy in the short-term. Surprisingly, however, interpersonal therapy was as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy at 1-year follow up, even though it does not directly address problematic eating behaviors or dysfunctional thoughts about body weight.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy appears to be an effective treatment for binge-eating disorders, as it is for bulimia.
Self-help manuals have also been found to be helpful with binge-eating disorder.
Inpatient medical treatment is necessary to restore weight in anorexic patients whose weight has dropped below 70% of normal.
Cognitive-behavioral treatments offer benefits to anorexics, as they do for bulimics.
Families may be included in treatment of anorexics in an effort to change family patterns that may maintain anorexic behaviors.
The prognosis for recovery from anorexia is substantially poorer than for bulimia or binge-eating disorder.
This page was last updated on Tuesday October 21, 2003.