A Simple Phone App to Help Women with Eating Disorders

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Women with Eating Disorders
Image- 3dman_eu (pixabay.com)

Food disorders are common especially in young women attending school or university. But the problem is that they are unable to identify it or seek medical guidance on how to deal with them. A newly developed phone app may help thousands of women with eating disorders without going to any hospital or a doctor directly.

The idea behind creating this app was to help everyone who, otherwise would never go and get medical help. Nearly 8 in 10 people with food disorders never consider it a problem and they are often diagnosed accidentally or after they are noticed by someone else. The new digital help which involved absolutely no hospital visits or meeting with the doctor is actually helpful to identify the problem and treat it effectively.

The new study has assessed the significance of digital therapy and coaching to help women with eating disorders. This idea has proven to be much more successful than the conventional help and treatments that these people receive.

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Eating disorders, despite being a medical condition has a huge stigma attached to them. It is embarrassing and shameful for a person to identify himself with such a problem and ask for a treatment. That’s why most women with eating disorders never come in light and receive treatment because they are unable to process the humiliation attached to eating disorders. They don’t want to be seen, identified, or marked with such labels which make their health even worse.

Ellen Fitzsimmons-Craft From the School of Medicine at Washington University is the lead author of this study. According to Ellen, the traditional treatment for eating disorders is not very helpful in treating the patients mainly because they don’t show up for help. So, this new online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention is better and more helpful to overcome the symptoms of food-related disorders as well as the stress attached to them.

The results predicted that 80% of the patients who were offered online CBT were welcoming towards it as compared to 28% of the conventional therapy users. The popularity and acceptance were much more in the students which indicates they find online interventions better than face to face therapy.

The eating disorders for example bulimia or commonly called binge eating disorder is common in more than 13.5% of students. These problems affect the quality of life and put their health at risk of other diseases.  These results are based on data obtained from 690 college-going patients with either binge eating or purging eating disorder. Patients of anorexia nervosa were excluded from this study.

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The study suggests that digital treatments may take over in-person therapy in the near time. or alternately, women with eating disorders need something that doesn’t induce the humiliation attached to eating disorders for them. But the in-person visits are necessary to know if they have other conditions prevailing or not; suggesting that the best treatment for all such people could be a combination of online and in-person coaching.

Eating disorders are real and are a risk factor for health. It is high time that people accept them as medical conditions and help those who need help. Awareness programs and campaigns to educate people about food disorders may help to serve this purpose.

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