How are Eating Disorders Treated?

treatment for eating disorders

How are Eating Disorders Treated?

Eating disorders are behavioral conditions that are characterized by severe, unhealthy, and ongoing disturbances in eating behaviors as well as distressing thoughts and emotions when it comes to food, weight, or physical appearance.[1]

While the symptoms of eating disorders often revolve around food and body weight, these mental health conditions are about more than eating. Oftentimes, eating disorders are the symptom of a larger underlying emotional issue. Restricting or controlling how one eats their food is often an unhealthy coping mechanism for the uncomfortable emotions or trauma they struggle with. 

Since eating disorders are comprehensive diseases that are about more than just food, these conditions are treated with a combination of services, including medication, therapy, nutritional counseling, and medical assistance. Additionally, because everyone struggling with an eating disorder has a different background, treatment plans must be individualized to ensure they are meeting each patient’s needs.

If you or a loved one are searching for eating disorder treatment, please contact Florida Recovery Group today to discuss your treatment options.

The Different Levels of Treatment for Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can be treated in a variety of different settings, from inpatient rehab centers to outpatient doctor’s offices. The setting in which you receive treatment will depend on your specific needs. People who have more severe versions of eating disorders will require inpatient hospitalization, while others may benefit from visiting a therapist twice a month. 

The different levels of treatment available for eating disorders include:

  • Outpatient Treatment – visiting a therapist or treatment center for appointments while living at home. 
  • Intensive Outpatient – attending treatment sessions at a facility several times per week while continuing to live at home. 
  • Partial Hospitalization – daily attendance of treatment sessions at a treatment facility that provides hospital monitoring while continuing to live at home.
  • Residential or Inpatient Treatment – living at a treatment facility that provides round-the-clock support and treatment for a few weeks to several months depending on your needs.

Each treatment setting will provide the same care services, just on a different level of intensity. For example, inpatient and outpatient programs both offer a variety of therapies, medication, and nutritional counseling. The main difference is that patients live at a residential facility while outpatient clients live in their own homes. 

Treatment Modalities Used for Eating Disorder Recovery 

When it comes to eating disorder treatment, everyone will receive highly individualized care to ensure that every patient is receiving services that will directly benefit them and promote recovery.

Treatment may involve:


Medications might be used to improve some of the underlying emotional issues associated with eating disorders. For example, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants have all been found to provide benefits in eating disorder recovery. It is important to note that medications are only used when necessary and on a case-by-case basis. 

Common medications used during eating disorder treatment include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for the treatment of bulimia nervosa
  • Lisdexamfetamine for the treatment of binge eating disorder
  • Second-generation antipsychotics like olanzapine for the treatment of anorexia nervosa

Additionally, it is possible to have a co-occurring mental health condition when you suffer from an eating disorder. If you have another condition like depression, anxiety disorder, or bipolar disorder, you might be given medication to manage those illnesses. 

Some eating disorders, such as binge eating disorder, may be treated with an appetite suppressant. On the other hand, people experiencing malnourishment may receive vitamins or supplements to help heal their bodies.


The foundation of eating disorder treatment is psychotherapy and behavioral therapy. The type of therapy you receive will depend heavily on your specific needs.

Types of therapies used during eating disorder treatment include:[2]

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT)
  • Specialist supportive clinical management (SSCM) 
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
  • Family-based therapy 

Therapy for eating disorders will focus on resolving the underlying issues that are causing you to have an unhealthy relationship with food. Whether you are restricting your eating or binging, therapy can help you learn how to use healthy coping mechanisms instead of using food as a way to feel in control. 

Nutritional Counseling

Nutritional counseling is the other aspect of eating disorder treatment that is imperative to recovery. Because you have been using food and eating as a form of control, overcoming your unhealthy relationship with food will be difficult. Nutritional counselors will help you develop a healthy attitude towards food and your body.

Medical Treatment 

Lastly, some individuals recovering from eating disorders require medical treatment. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “People with anorexia are at risk of dying from medical complications associated with starvation.”[3] Because certain eating disorders come with such grave risks, receiving medical care is vital. 

Medical treatment for eating disorders may include:

  • Weight monitoring 
  • Vital sign monitoring 
  • Parenteral nutrition 
  • Bone density scanning
  • X-rays 
  • Monitoring of organ function, electrolytes, and blood counts 
  • Heart monitoring 
  • Dental assessment and treatment 

Get Help for an Eating Disorder 

If you or a loved one suffer from an eating disorder, it’s time to seek professional help. Eating disorders have some of the highest mortality rates of all mental health conditions, making treatment extremely vital to your safety. 

At Florida Recovery Group, we can provide you with all of the tools and support necessary to recover from any type of eating disorder. To learn more about our eating disorder treatment programs, contact us today. 


  1. The American Psychological Association (APA): What are Eating Disorders, Retrieved July 2023 From
  2. The National Library of Medicine: Psychological Treatments for Eating Disorders, Retrieved July 2023 From
  3. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Eating Disorders, Retrieved July 2023 From
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