Treating OSFED (other specified feeding or eating disorders) can be challenging, but with proper evaluations, therapies and medications, recovery is possible.
Although other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED) is a complicated mental health diagnosis capable of affecting mental and physical health, treatment is available. By starting treatment early and staying consistent, a person can find relief from their symptoms and develop a healthier relationship with food.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective forms of treatment for eating disorders, including OSFED. CBT helps individuals with OSFED examine their thoughts, feelings and behaviors related to food, eating and self-perception. Once the client and therapist identify distorted thoughts and unhealthy behaviors, they work together to replace these thoughts with more appropriate and realistic ones.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Based on principles similar to CBT, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is another useful therapy for OSFED.
During eating disorder treatment, a therapist using DBT focuses on helping clients build skills related to:
- Interpersonal relationships and communication
- Emotional regulation
- Distress tolerance
By increasing these skills, a person with OSFED can better communicate their needs, manage their feelings and handle distressing situations.
While CBT and DBT touch on aspects of communication and relationships, interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) focuses on these exclusively. IPT is based on the idea that interpersonal and relationship problems are significant contributors to the development of eating disorders.
IPT pays particular attention to:
- Unresolved grief and loss
- Interpersonal relationships and social isolation
- Interpersonal conflicts with romantic partners, close friends, family members and coworkers
- Major life transitions, such as divorce, moving or retirement
Talk therapy can help combat many of the symptoms and thought processes that contribute to eating disorders, but sometimes, therapy alone isn’t enough. In these situations, adding medications to an individual’s treatment plan can improve their condition.
One group of medications used in eating disorder treatment are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These antidepressants work by increasing the availability of serotonin, a chemical linked to mood and sleep regulation, in the brain. Using an SSRI can improve symptoms of other mental health conditions that co-occur with eating disorders.
Initially prescribed for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, doctors may also prescribe Vyvanse to treat binge eating disorder (BED). Vyvanse is the only medication currently approved to treat BED. In studies, Vyvanse has been shown to help people with BED reduce obsessive thoughts about eating and lower their rate of binges per week.
It seems Vyvanse improves binge eating disorder symptoms in between 82 and 86 percent of people who use the drug, which makes it particularly useful for people whose OSFED is related to binge eating. Unfortunately, Vyvanse addiction is a concern for those using the medication, even when taken as prescribed.
While therapy and medication can improve many of the symptoms of OSFED, developing new eating patterns through nutrition counseling is crucial to long-term health. Nutrition counseling involves meeting with a dietitian or other nutrition specialist to learn about healthy diet and exercise practices.
Nutrition counseling can shatter previously viewed beliefs about certain foods or food groups and show there is room for many different kinds of foods with moderation. Armed with accurate information, the person can make improved, balanced diet choices.
Additional OSFED Resources and Support
It’s natural to have many more questions about OSFED and other eating disorders. Additional resources that can help answer those questions include:
- Academy for Eating Disorders
- Alliance for Eating Disorder Awareness
- National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disorders
- Binge Eating Disorder Association
- National Eating Disorder Association
Treating OSFED and Co-Occurring Disorders
Since OSFED, like other eating disorders, frequently co-occurs with a variety of mental health and substance abuse issues, specialized treatment is often necessary. If a treatment provider only addresses an eating disorder without addressing co-occurring conditions, it is unlikely that the symptoms of either problem will improve for long.
OSFED commonly co-occurs with:
- Mood disorders, such as depressive and bipolar disorders
- Substance use disorders, especially alcohol use disorder
- Anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder
As always, a thorough evaluation by a mental health professional is essential to establish a full diagnosis and proper course of action. By addressing all issues simultaneously, the provider has the best chance to reduce and resolve all symptoms at the same time.
Depending on the individual’s current status, they may require inpatient treatment before outpatient treatment begins. Many of the same therapies and medications used with OSFED are beneficial when treating co-occurring disorders, so the course of treatment may be similar whether the person has one or several conditions.
Finding effective care is a crucial first step in beginning recovery from an OSFED, especially if a co-occurring condition like addiction is present. If you or someone you care about is dealing with co-occurring substance abuse and an OSFED, The Recovery Village can help. Reach out to a representative today for more information.
Better Health Channel. “Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders.” 2019. Accessed on March 13, 2019.
Eating Recovery Center. “OSFED Facts & Statistics.” Accessed on March 13, 2019.
National Eating Disorder Association. “Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder.” Accessed on March 11, 2019.
National Eating Disorder Association. “Types of Treatment.” Accessed on March 13, 2019.
Pareth, R. “What are Eating Disorders?” American Psychiatric Association. January 2017. Accessed on March 13, 2019.
Vyvanse.com. “Vyvanse for Moderate to Severe BED in Adults.” Accessed on March 13, 2019.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.