Eating Disorders Treatment
Eating disorders are illnesses that currently affects women and men of any age or background all around the world. Up to 24 million Americans are currently dealing with an eating disorder, whether it be bulimia, anorexia, or binge-eating. Though eating disorders can affect men or women of any age, women and girls are 2.5 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than men or boys. These dangerous emotional disorders can drastically deteriorate a person's emotional health and physical appearance.
An eating disorder is more than just a physical illness. Although most of the effects will show physically on the individual who is struggling, a vast portion of the suffering is mental. More frequently than not, an eating disorder co-exists with a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, OCD, or even substance abuse. Because of the highly-damaging effects that an eating disorder may cause, it is very important that the individual struggling gets the treatment help and attention that they need.
The 3 Most Common Types of Eating Disorders
Anorexia Nervosa - Anorexia Nervosa is the most common and most dangerous amongst the classification of eating disorders. Currently, anorexia causes the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. Individuals that struggle with anorexia nervosa view themselves as overweight when, oftentimes, they are obviously underweight. The habits of someone struggling with this order include obsessively weighing themselves, portion control with all food intake, eating very small quantities of food, and making excuses for not eating. Other times, the individual may binge eat that is followed by use of diuretics or laxatives, self-induced vomiting, extreme exercising, or periods of starvation. Symptoms and medical complications of anorexia nervosa may include:
- Extremely low body weight
- Lack of menstruation amongst females
- Thinning of bones
- Brittle hair and nails
- Dry or yellowish skin
- Extreme fatigue
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle deterioration
- Heart damage
- Brain damage
- Multiple organ failure
Bulimia Nervosa - Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder that involves frequent bouts of extreme overeating that are combined with feeling a lack of control. These episodes are usually accompanied by extreme regret and a feeling of panic, which is then followed by self-induced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting or extreme forms of exercise. Unlike anorexia, sufferers of bulimia typically fall into the normal weight range for their height and age. However, they still fear gaining weight which is why they participate in forms of purging to rid themselves of the food and calories. Symptoms of bulimia nervosa can include:
- Weight gain
- Chronically inflamed and sore throat
- Swollen glands in neck and jaw
- Acid reflux
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Intestinal problems from laxative abuse
- Extreme fatigue and weakness
- Abdominal pain and bloating
- Puffy face and cheeks
- Swelling of feet and hands
- Heart damage
- Brain damage
- Tooth decay and damage
- Kidney damage
- Tearing of the esophagus
Binge-Eating Disorder - A binge-eating disorder causes afflicted individual to eat uncontrollably. This is classified as "compulsive overeating" and can last anywhere from a few hours or on and off all day long. Oftentimes, the individual will experience feelings of guilt or embarrassment during these episodes, causing them to eat more from the the shame and stress. Unlike bulimia nervosa, an individual with this disorder does not have compensatory activities such as self-induced vomiting or excessive exercise to get rid of the ingested food. Due to this, those with binge-eating disorder are more likely to appear overweight or obese. Binge-eating affects about 2% of the general population and around 8% of people who are obese. Those who suffer from this disorder are at a much higher risk for developing other health complications, such as high-blood pressure or certain cardiovascular diseases.
Eating Disorder Treatment
In order to get proper treatment for an eating disorder, the individual who is suffering must realize and admit that they have a problem are willing to accept help. Treatment will help the individual manage the symptoms of the disorder, get them on track to a healthy weight, and repair the physical and mental ailments. Each treatment will be different based on the eating disorder. In less severe cases, a combination treatments such as psychotherapy, nutrition education, counseling, and prescribed medications may be implemented to get the individual back on track to a healthy weight and lifestyle.
In more severe cases, the individual may need to seek inpatient treatment to kick the disorder and repair any medical complications that have resulted. Once the individual checks into a treatment facility that best suits their needs, they will begin the process of bringing their body and mind back to proper health. This will involve restoring adequate nutrition, reducing excessive exercise, maintaining positive mental health practices, learning about healthy nutrition habits and practices, and the ceasing of any binge and purge related activities. During treatment, the patient's body will begin to readjust itself to consuming an adequate amount of nutrients and food.
Individuals in treatment programs will also be enrolled in therapy sessions designed to tackle the eating disorder and get to the root cause. Specific forms of psychotherapy, such as the family-based therapy, known as the Maudsley Approach, as well as cognitive behavioral approaches, have proven to be useful in treating specific eating disorders. The Maudsley Approach can be described as an intensive treatment method wherein parents play an active part in order to help restore their child's weight to a healthy range and to encourage the child to participate in regular nutrition habits to help to foster normal adolescent development.
A cognitive behavioral approach involves counseling sessions that are typically once a week. The goal of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) help to normalize the patient's eating patterns, teach healthy habits to replace the former unhealthy ones, explore ways to deal with stress and emotions that aren't food-related, and improve one's relationship with themselves as well as friends and family. Medications may also be administered, not to cure, but to help the individual along their treatment plan. This is oftentimes coupled with counseling as it is more effective. Common medications, such as antidepressants or antianxiety medications, may help the individual if they are also struggling with mood disorders. An eating disorder is usually rooted in something deeper and insidious, such as depression.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder, please call the Treatment Helpline today so that we can get you on the path towards recovery. Don't hesitate to seek help; health is the most important thing a person can have. Start a new adventure to a happy and healthy lifestyle!