EBSCO Health

Print PageSend to a Friend
Health Library Home>Conditions InDepth>Article

Treatments for Eating Disorders

People with an eating disorder may not realize or admit there's a problem. The person must want to get help and make changes. Getting help may take a long time. The course of treatment depends on how serious the problems are. Relapse is common and part of the process of getting better. It often happens during times of stress.

The good news is, these disorders can be treated. The sooner this happens, the lower the risk of having long term health problems. Serious cases may need to be treated in a hospital first. Common methods use medicines and counseling. This is to help you change your self-esteem and improve your life.

Even though each eating disorder has different problems, the goals are the same. These are:

  • Restoring normal weight safely and fixing any lapses in nutrition. A dietitian will help you plan healthful meals that work for you.
  • Stopping harmful, compulsive, or repetitive behaviors.
  • Treating any health problems caused by the eating disorder—both mental and physical.
  • Finding out why you have problems with food and how to make changes.
  • Getting proper counseling—may be alone, in a group, and with your family.
  • To learn the signs of relapse so you can prevent it.

Eating disorders are treated with one or more of:

There are no surgical procedures to treat eating disorders.


About eating disorders. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders website. Available at: http://www.anad.org/education-and-awareness/about-eating-disorders. Accessed September 6, 2018.

Anorexia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114614/Anorexia-nervosa. Updated June 15, 2017. Accessed September 6, 2018.

Binge eating disorder. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T563461/Binge-eating-disorder. Updated June 15, 2017. Accessed September 6, 2018.

Bulimia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114924/Bulimia-nervosa. Updated July 16, 2018. Accessed September 6, 2018.

Eating disorders: About more than food. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders/index.shtml. Updated 2018. Accessed September 6, 2018.

Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD  Last Updated: 9/6/2018