Topic Progress:

Typical treatment goals for all forms of eating disorder, and disordered eating, include restoring adequate nutrition, bringing weight to a healthy level, reducing excessive exercise and stopping binging and purging behaviours. This can be very difficult to achieve and always involves a team approach. The player, their family and a range of different types of clinicians generally must all work together to help make this happen.

Recovery is possible

It is important to stress to affected players, their team-mates and families that a complete recovery is possible.

Specific forms of psychotherapy have been shown to be useful for treating specific eating disorders. Evidence also suggests that antidepressant medications may help for bulimia nervosa and also may be effective for treating co-occurring anxiety or depression for other eating disorders. In more severe cases, some players also may need to be hospitalised to treat problems caused by malnutrition or to ensure that they eat enough if they are very underweight.

A team of different clinicians, with experience of managing eating disorders, should ideally be involved with these players. Generally, treatment is not successful when the player is completely removed from the team setting. A reduction in training load would, however, be important as part of their treatment.

Prof Astrid Junge

Professor of Prevention and Sports