Eating disorders can be difficult to treat for several reasons. First, there is a lack of specific medications as only two drugs have been approved by the FDA for treating these conditions. Second, patients may not recognize the need for treatment, have the will to initiate treatment, or delay therapy until their illness becomes severe and complex. Third, some individuals find it challenging to comply with or remain in therapy once started. Fourth, relapse often occurs after periods of improvement. Finally, there can be challenges obtaining therapy due to poor access to suitably qualified care providers or due to financial difficulties.
The high and insidious occurrence of eating disorders, association with a wide range of disorders and the myriad of treatment difficulties, cause these illnesses to be among the most devastating of human conditions. They have a profoundly negative impact on those who are affected and their families, and are increasingly being recognized as public health concerns. Indeed, eating disorders are associated with the highest rates of morbidity and mortality among all mental disorders, as well as being linked to extremely high rates of substance abuse and suicides.