Kathy Henkemans, a registered dietician, says although eating disorders are treatable, they can be deadly if not addressed. This is because they often coexist with other conditions such as anxiety disorder, substance abuse or depression.
She says the first step in dealing with an eating disorder is diagnosis. Treatment involves a combination of psychological and nutritional counselling, along with medical and psychiatric monitoring.
“Treatment must address the eating disorder symptoms and medical consequences, as well as psychological, biological, interpersonal and cultural forces that contribute to or maintain the eating disorder,” she says.
Henkemans advises that you make positive lifestyle changes and use therapy or physical activity to deal with emotional burdens. She also recommends repeated mindful eating as a healthier way to deal with emotions.
Dr Diana Monama, a Pretoria-based psychologist, adds that treatment doesn’t only focus on you as an individual. Your family dynamics are also assessed to get to the root of the problem.
She says in most cases psychological therapy is effective on its own, but medical attention may also be needed, depending on the severity of the problem.
“Psychological counselling helps to alter any faulty thoughts you may have about body shape, size and eating. A consultation with a psychiatrist needs to be done before any medication can be prescribed,” she says.