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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Getting help with an eating disorder

Whai āwhina mō te matenga kainga

Many people with eating disorders feel embarrassed, ashamed or guilty. They have often tried to treat their disorder without success. This can make them believe that nothing will work and stop them getting help.

Eating disorders are treatable. But the longer someone has an eating disorder (particularly anorexia), the more ingrained their thinking and behaviour becomes. So, it is best to get treatment as early as possible. Specialist treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy, is essential.

Talking to your general practice team is a good first step.

Specialist eating disorder services

South Island Eating Disorders Service (SIEDS)

SIEDS is a free service that mostly works with people as outpatients. This means they do not stay in hospital. It also provides hospital care when appropriate. The SIEDS team includes psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and specialists. It also includes dietitians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and social workers.

When treating young people, SIEDS often uses family-based treatment. This is based on the Maudsley family-based treatment approach. For adults, SIEDS works out which approach is best for each individual and their family.

They also offer a binge eating disorder group. This involves a course of weekly meetings using cognitive behaviour techniques. The aim is to understand and change the triggers that lead to binge eating. These include beliefs about food and eating, body weight and shape.

You will need to see your general practice team to be referred to SIEDS for assessment.

Counsellors and therapists

Talking therapies with a trained counsellor or psychologist help many people. Cognitive behavioural therapy is a type of talking therapy that can help people with eating disorders.

You can find counsellors, therapists, and psychiatrists in the Family Services Directory or Healthpoint. The Mental Health Education and Resource Centre (MHERC) can also help. Some therapy options will cost. Your general practice team can talk through the approximate cost with you.

On the next page: Supporting someone with an eating disorder

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2024.

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Review key: HIEDI-73561