Eating Disorder Treatment
Types of Eating Disorder Treatment
Eating disorders are not uncommon and are not limited to one gender or age group. Anyone is susceptible to developing a difficult relationship with food, their body, and exercise. Some people may be more prone to this because of other mental health conditions, but everyone has things they do not like about themselves and wish they could change. That desire to change something about your physical appearance can, in some cases, escalate to an extreme disorder revolving around food.
Once someone has developed an eating disorder, it can be difficult to escape from without proper professional help1https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eating-disorders/in-depth/eating-disorder-treatment/art-20046234. Eating disorders have everything to do with our minds and the way we think about and visualize ourselves. For this type of mental illness, not only do physical changes need to be made, but mental changes and habits need to change as well.
It is ok to desire to be healthy and in shape. The physical response our bodies have to being healthy and eating good food is positive2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2912736/. It makes us feel good inside and out. The problem arises when that desire stops being something you implement in your life to make you feel good and you instead become obsessed with the number on the scale, the amount of food you eat, and the inches around your body.
Typical symptoms of an eating disorder include:
- mood swings
- frequent mirror checks
- obsessive dieting
- withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities and friends
- cutting out entire food groups
- skipping meals/extremely small portions
- food rituals
- do not like eating in front of others
- obsessive thoughts and behaviors that make your life revolve around weight, food, and dieting
- weight fluctuations
- gastrointestinal issues
- missed/irregular periods
- feeling cold
- problems sleeping
- finger calluses (inducing vomiting)
- brittle nails, hair loss, dry skin
- cavities, teeth discoloration
- muscle weakness
- yellow skin
- infections/impaired immune system
The effects of an eating disorder, no matter which one (Anorexia, Bulimia, Orthorexia, Binge Eating) are all serious and all can have a long-lasting impact on your well-being and health. There may be slight differences between each of the eating disorders, but the effects that they have on your mental and physical health are serious. If you suspect that you or someone you love has developed a poor relationship with food and their weight, there is professional treatment available. And the sooner you seek it out, the better the outcome will be.
Treatment can come in all shapes and sizes, but will typically include variations of three different categories: psychological therapy, nutrition/healthcare, and medication. You may require all three categories or you may only require two of them. Most cases will at least involve psychological help and nutrition education and healthcare. Not all cases will need medication. It just depends on you and your situation.
Eating Disorder Treatment Options
Psychological help for Eating Disorder Treatment
Eating disorders do not only affect your body. They affect the mind as well. You will need professional help to reshape your mindset and habits around food and weight. It can help you create healthy habits and get rid of unhealthy ones. It can reshape the way you look at yourself or critique yourself in the mirror. It can give you a healthy coping mechanism to deal with problems that arise.
There are a few different therapy methods you can use and you can use a combination of all three if you choose. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a method used for many mental illnesses. It will pinpoint behaviors and feelings that have likely extended or caused your eating disorder. Learning about these thoughts and feelings can help you analyze your own behavior when you are out in the world and dealing with something that is triggering.
Family-based therapy involves your family if that is something you think would be helpful. They are often support systems and having them as a part of your therapy can be helpful for accountability. Group CBT is similar to the cognitive behavioral therapy listed above but will involve others who are in a similar boat as you. Discussing similar feelings and behaviors with people who struggle as you do can be very cathartic.
Nutrition/Healthcare for Eating Disorder Treatment
Dietitians and other healthcare professionals are those you will need to help establish a healthy eating plan and pattern. You will likely need to see a physician to assist with any sort of medical issues that have arisen because of the eating disorder. These are the people who will help create a care plan for you as you move forward with the process
Medication for Eating Disorder Treatment
Not everyone needs medication for their eating disorder and medication does not cure eating disorders. Medications in this scenario are used along with therapy. They are often antidepressant medications and can help you cope with depression, anxiety, and other symptoms that exacerbate your eating disorder.
In some cases, many people will need to attend a residential treatment or spend time as an inpatient in a hospital for medical issues. Residential treatments are specifically made for long-term eating disorder care and you will likely live with others who have similar illnesses. Hospitalization is usually involved if the medical complications involved with your eating disorder are serious and require intensive medical attention.
Day Programs for Eating Disorder Treatment
There are hospital and eating disorder facility programs that function as if you were an out-patient. These are where you come in daily or a few times a week for close-knit guidance or group therapy. These day programs can include medical care and family therapy as well. You spend the day at the facility and receive both your therapy variation and nutrition education in one place – often with others who are also going through the recovery process.
Long Term Healthcare for Eating Disorder Treatment
In some severe cases, those who have recovered from an eating disorder will need long-term treatment. This long-term treatment is either out-patient or in-patient but is required because the medical issues that were caused by the eating disorder were not resolvable with the eating disorder. They are health issues that the individual will likely live with for the rest of their life.
No matter what treatment you end up needing, you are taking an important step. The first step is always the most difficult, but you are not alone in your recovery and you are well worth the time and effort it will take to recover from your eating disorder.
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