Eating disorders belong to the group of non-substance-related dependencies. In contrast to other dependencies, the particular problem here is that one cannot avoid or quit eating and dealing with it. In addition to individual problems, there are also cultural problems. Industrialized food and a lack of knowledge about nutrition leads to weight problems in a large number of people.
Nowadays you can hardly find a person who is not concerned in one way or another with weight or appearance. In addition to this general concern, there are other serious disorders that need to be treated.
According to various estimates, anorexia nervosa affects between 0.2 and 2% of German citizens, 95% of whom are women. The number of affected young men is rising.
The opposite is more common than anorexia: obesity. 9% to 25% of women are affected, about 10% to 16% of men. It is important to note that eating has a calming effect on the mind. It is a way for those affected to cope with fear, stress, hurt feelings and loneliness. They feel unable and helpless to resist the urge to over-eat.
Bulimia, characterised by over-eating and purging, affects far more women than men. Sufferers are often well-adapted, performance-oriented, controlled and determined. The external appearance (unlike other eating disorders) corresponds to an ideal shape. To achieve this, bulimics take a number of measures. In addition to physical exercise and diet, laxatives and appetite suppressants are abused. They suffer from binge eating attacks in which masses of food are eaten and later vomited out again.
Uninhibited eating attacks also occur in other eating disorders, such as obesity in connection with diet attempts. However, the typical vomiting patterns of bulimia does not occur.
The severity of the disease is usually considerable, but can vary depending on the type of eating disorder. Anorexia can go on for years and can be fatal. Obesity can be indirectly fatal, serious health problems associated with obesity often only become apparent at an advanced age. Bulimia can go undetected for many years. If so, then health problems do not show up until later.
Behavioural therapy, deep psychological therapy, analytical therapy (covered by health insurance); as well as all forms of humanistic psychotherapy such as Gestalt therapy and talk therapy, but also psychodrama or hypnotherapy (all not covered by health insurance).
In the case of this type of disorder, a stay in a specialist clinic can be the beginning of the healing process. Years of treatment are not uncommon, as relapses often occur. In the case of anorexia, which often first appears during puberty, outpatient treatment can be successful in early stages of the disorder.
The treatment of eating disorders with a mixture of inpatient and outpatient therapy can take several years.
Health insurance companies, both private and statutory/public, usually cover the costs of treatment.