Self-help treatment of eating disorders

Professional treatments for eating disorders are expensive and difficult to find. The good news: if you suffer from bulimia nervosa, bulimia, or a subclinical version of any of these, self-help may bridge the gap. Research shows that self-help is beneficial.By using manuals, workbooks or smartphones or web-based platforms, you can follow a series of steps to understand your problems and develop the skills to overcome and manage obstacles. However, given the special medical needs of patients with anorexia nervosa, self-help treatment is not recommended.

Not all self-help is equally effective. The enhanced version of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT-E) is the most effective treatment for patients with binge eating disorder and binge eating disorder; the results of studies have shown that approximately 65% ​​of people recover after receiving 20 psychological treatments.Self-help methods based on CBT have been studied the most.

Pure self-help and guided self-help

exist Pure self-help, The patient completes the material work under the guidance of completely independent professionals. In contrast, Guided self-help This includes self-help and support from others or facilitators who may not be professional eating disorder therapists. For example, the supporter can be a non-professional person or a recovered person; support can be provided in various forms, such as face-to-face, phone calls, text messages, or the Internet. The frequency of support may vary, but it is usually not as intensive as weekly psychotherapy.

Pure self-help and guided self-help for eating disorders have been shown to be effective for subgroups of individuals with bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and OSFED (other specific feeding and eating disorders).Among them, the support rate for using it in patients with binge eating disorder is the highest.

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Compared with pure self-help, there is more support for guided self-help. Self-help has also proven to be better than no treatment.

In 2013, after graduate studies proved this to be a feasible and effective model, the Counseling Center at Rutgers University began to regularly provide guided self-service for eating disorders. In the two-year study, student Zandberg trained 7 graduate psychology students, who in turn provided guided self-help treatment for 38 students diagnosed with bulimia nervosa or bulimia.The support is based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy and is provided in 10 sessions of 25 minutes. At the end of the 12-week program, 42% of the subjects had not overeated, and 63% of the subjects no longer met the criteria for eating disorders.

Should you try to help yourself?

Not everyone needs a complete individual treatment process to recover from binge eating disorder, bulimia, and other forms of eating disorders. Researchers propose that people with eating disorders start with appropriate treatments with the lowest intensity, and if there is no improvement, they progress to more intensive treatments. In this stepped care model, the starting point is self-help.

Self-help for eating disorders may be particularly beneficial for people who cannot find a specialist or who have difficulty accessing treatment due to cost, location, or other obstacles.

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Compared with other treatment methods, self-help treatment is cost-effective. It is also very flexible and can be completed on your own time.

If you are underweight, have lost significant weight recently, or have been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa or similar problems, you are not recommended to help yourself-you must seek professional help. If you are experiencing eating disorders, binge eating disorder or bulimia nervosa, it is best to start by seeking medical treatment and professional mental health treatment. However, if there is no specialized treatment and your problem is not serious, you may need to start with one of the following resources. Even if you are undergoing a certain treatment, you may want to consider one of these self-help resources as an aid; although it is a good idea to discuss rehabilitation-oriented books with your treatment team.

Most clinical trials of eating disorders (regardless of the treatments studied) indicate that if there is no improvement by week 4, individuals are unlikely to benefit from the treatment. Therefore, if you do not show progress in the 4th week after trying to help yourself, you should seek additional help or a higher level of treatment.

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Remember, it takes effort to recover from an eating disorder. Set aside time to focus on recovery. Realize that when you start to solve a problem, it’s common to feel worse before you start to feel better. Contact your support system. It is important to remember that many people cannot fully recover with self-help intervention alone. This is not a reason to be ashamed. Eating disorders are harmful, sometimes stubborn diseases, and usually require other treatments.

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Recommended reading

  • Overcoming binge eating (Fairburn, 1995) is an abridged version of CBT-E treatment, and is the most commonly used self-help manual for guiding self-help randomized controlled trials. In a number of studies, it has proven to be effective for bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified, the predecessor diagnosis of OSFED). An updated version was released in 2013. Overcoming binge eating There are two parts. The first contains psychological education about eating disorders, and the second contains a six-step self-help plan. Each step includes specific homework tasks (such as self-monitoring, regular eating, problem solving) and a checklist that allows participants to monitor progress.
  • Overcoming Eating Disorders-Part A And Overcoming Eating Disorders-Part B includes a self-service program that can be downloaded for free through the Clinical Intervention Centre (CCI) of Western Australia for users worldwide. The CCI workbook is provided as a user-friendly pdf file and addresses many mental health disorders. The Eating Disorders Workbook also strictly follows the evidence-based CBT-E protocol.
  • Overcoming eating disorders: Cognitive behavioral treatments for bulimia nervosa and bulimia, a self-help guidebookThe workbook also strictly follows the CBT manual for the treatment of bulimia and binge eating.