Therapy for Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders describe a set of illnesses which have shared characteristics, in particular irregular eating habits and serious distress or concern about body weight or appearance. This article discusses types of eating disorder and how therapy for eating disorders can help.


therapy for eating disorders


Therapy for Eating Disorders: Reasons, Signs and symptoms, Signs and Health Complications

Eating disorders can include insufficient or unneeded food consumption which can ultimately harm an individual’s well-being. The most common forms of eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder and affect both females and males.

Disordered eating troubles can develop during any phase in life but typically appear during the teenage years or young adulthood. Considered a medical illness, suitable therapy for eating disorders can be highly effective for many of the specific varieties of eating disorders.

Although these conditions are manageable, the symptoms and implications can be harmful and occasionally even life threatening if not dealt with. Eating disorders generally coexist along with other conditions, such as anxiety disorders, substance abuse, or depression.

Therapy for eating disorders and types of disordered eating

The three most commonly encountered types of Eating Disorders are as follows:

Anorexia Nervosa-The person struggling with anorexia nervosa will typically have an obsessive anxiety about putting on weight, refusal to keep up a healthy body weight and an unrealistic perception of body appearance. Many people with anorexia nervosa will fiercely restrict the quantity of food they eat and view themselves as overweight, even when they are clearly underweight. Anorexia may have eventual harmful health consequences, such as brain damage, multi-organ failure, bone loss, heart difficulties, and infertility. The risk of death is greatest in individuals with this disease.

Bulimia Nervosa-This eating disorder is characterised by repetitive binge eating followed by behaviours that compensate for the overeating, such as forced vomiting, extreme physical exercise, or extreme use of laxatives or diuretics. People who suffer from Bulimia may worry about weight gain and feel severely dissatisfied with their body size and shape. The binge-eating and purging pattern is typically carried out in secret, developing feelings of shame, guilt, and lack of control. Bulimia can have injuring effects, such as gastrointestinal problems, severe dehydration, and heart problems resulting from an electrolyte imbalance.

Binge Eating Disorder– Individuals who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder will often lose control over their eating. Distinct from bulimia nervosa however, instances of binge-eating are not accompanied by compensatory behaviours, such as purging, fasting, or excessive exercise. Because of this, many people suffering from BED might be overweight and at an increased likelihood of developing other conditions, for example cardiovascular disease. People who battle with this disorder might also encounter intense feelings of guilt, distress, and embarrassment related to their binge-eating, which could impact the further progression of the eating disorder.


therapy for eating disorders London


Therapy for eating disorders and the causes of disordered eating

Eating disorders are complex, affected by a range of factors. Therapy for eating disorders will look at the causes and even though the specific cause of eating disorders is not known, it is generally thought that a combination of biological, psychological, and/or environmental irregularities play a role in the development of these types of illnesses.

Examples of biological factors include things like:

  • Abnormal hormone functions
  • Genetics (the tie between eating disorders and a person’s genes is still being heavily investigated, but we know that inherited genes is a part of the story).
  • Dietary deficiencies
  • Examples of mental health factors include:
  • Negative body image
  • Inadequate self-esteem

Examples of environmental factors that would play a role in the occurrence of eating disorders are:

  • Dysfunctional family dynamics
  • Professions and careers that encourage being skinny and weight loss, such as ballet and modelling
  • Visually driven sports, where an importance is placed on maintaining a slim body for enhanced performance. Examples include:
  • Rowing
  • Diving
  • Ballet
  • Gymnastics
  • Wrestling
  • Long distance running
  • Family and childhood traumas: childhood sexual abuse, severe trauma
  • Cultural and/or pressure from peers among friends and co-workers
  • Stressful transitions or life changes


therapy for eating disorders using hypnotherapy


Therapy for eating disorders: signs and symptoms

People experiencing an eating disorder may show several signs and symptoms, some of which might include:

  • Persistent dieting despite becoming hazardously underweight
  • Frequent weight changes
  • Obsession with calories and fat contents of food items
  • Engaging in ritualistic eating patterns, such as slicing food into small pieces, eating alone, and/or trying to hide food
  • Continued fixation with food, recipes, or cooking; the individual may prepare elaborate meals for others but stay away from partaking
  • Depression or lethargy
  • Avoidance of social functions, family, and friends. They may become separated from others and appear withdrawn
  • Switching between periods of overeating and fasting

Therapy for eating disorders and disordered eating

Due to the seriousness and complexities of these conditions, therapy for eating disorders often requires a comprehensive and expert treatment team. Having a multidisciplinary team dedicated to eating disorders is frequently essential in developing healing and recovery.

Therapy for eating disorders teams will use personalised treatment plans. These help when dealing with the many concerns a person may have in the recovery of their health and well-being. Having plan which is tailor-made to meet individual requirements is extremely important.

Therapy for eating disorders is usually composed of one or more of the following and addressed by medical doctors, nutrition experts, and therapists for complete care.

Medical Care and Monitoring: The greatest worry in the treatment of eating disorders is handling any health issues that might have been a consequence of eating disordered behaviours.

Nutrition: This would involve weight restoration and stabilisation, advice for normal eating, and the incorporation of a personalised meal plan.

Therapy treatment: Different forms of psychotherapy and treatments such as hypnotherapy; be that as individual, family, or group work, can be helpful in addressing the underlying causes of eating disorders. Hypnotherapy or talking therapy for eating disorders should be viewed as an essential part of treatment since they provide an individual in recovery the opportunity to deal with and heal from any traumatic life events. Therapy can help someone learn much healthier coping techniques and methods for articulating emotions, communicating and maintaining healthy relationships.

Medications: Some medications might be good at helping deal with mood or anxiety symptoms that can arise with an eating disorder or in decreasing binge-eating and purging behaviours.

Varying levels of treatment, ranging from outpatient support groups to inpatient treatment facilities, are available and based on the seriousness of the eating disorder. In any event, spotting and addressing the eating disorder is crucial in being able to begin treatment.

Could therapy for eating disorders help you?

Have you been affected by anything mentioned in this article? There  are a number of eating disorders charities and professional support available.

I provide hypnotherapy for overeating, binge eating and disordered eating. Click here for information about sessions in London and online.

Visit our sister site Deep Dive Therapy London

author avatar
Jason Demant Clinical Hypnotherapist
London hypnotherapist. Seeing clients in King's Cross and online. Diploma in clinical hypnotherapy, counselling and Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) from Life Matters Training College, based on Harley Street, London. Fully insured and a validated practitioner of the General Hypnotherapy Standards Council and member of the General Hypnotherapy Register.