If In Doubt Shout
Eating disorders can take a severe toll on both health, relationships, and the more quickly they are treated the more effective the treatment, and the less physical damage will be caused. The first step in seeking help is to acknowledge that you have a problem. Treatment of eating disorders always starts with a visit to a therapist that specializes in that field, so your first question should be “Is there a therapist near me?”An article from Betterhelp gave insights about this.
The myth that you can tell who has an eating disorder based upon their appearance is incredibly dangerous to those who are struggling. — Jennifer Rollin MSW, LCSW-C
THE TREATMENT PLAN
Whether the eating disorder has resulted in major weight loss, treatment will always start with a dietary plan to restore your body to the correct weight. Malnourishment impairs cognitive abilities, so psychiatric care is likely to be less effective if you are malnourished. The therapist is likely to want to work with you to gain an understanding of the underlying causes of your condition. This will be used in the development of a personal treatment plan. Because of the complexity of eating disorders they frequently co-exist with other psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety disorders, and all these conditions must be treated for you to fully recover.
The treatment plan is likely to be tailor-made to your environment, support systems, and symptoms. Usually, a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment is taken. Psychotherapy can include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy CBT, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy DBT, and Cognitive Analytical Therapy CAT. You will receive nutritional counseling to help you to regain a healthier outlook on diet and nutrition so that you can be restored to a healthy weight.
ASPECTS OF THE TREATMENT PLAN
Psychotherapy is used to understand any underlying disorders, to help to restore relationships and the help you to obtain a healthier view about their body image and food. Over fifty percent of people suffering from an eating disorder also suffer from depression.
In spite of the long history of psychoanalytic contributions to the treatment of eating disorders, contemporary endeavors have lost sight of the insights our field has provided. — Tom Wooldridge, PsyD, ABPP, CEDS
The goal of CBT is the modification of destructive thoughts and behavior. CBT will take between three and six months, but the long-term outcome of this form of therapy is known to be very effective. DBT is used to assist in regulating any extreme reactions to difficult circumstances. During DBT you are likely to undergo mindfulness training and will be taught how to deal with stressful situations. ACT is used in the treatment of eating disorders, anxiety and depression. This therapy is used to help the patient to understand their emotions and how they trigger eating responses.
Eating disorders are not normally treated with medication, but medicines may be prescribed for co-existing conditions. At the beginning of the treatment, many patients are severely malnourished and any resultant damage to the body must receive urgent medical attention.
When adolescents or children have eating disorders family therapy also forms part of the treatment plan. The family or support network is helped to understand the problems so that they can offer effective support. The idea is to strengthen the family unit.
If outpatient treatment facilities are not effective, residential treatment centers may be an alternative as they offer treatment in structured environments. This can help to break compulsive habits. It also removes you from the environment, which may have helped to create the disorder. Above all life’s daily stresses are left behind, so that you can concentrate on recovery.
CAN I DO THIS ON MY OWN?
Self-help can help in the treatment of eating disorders, but without outside help, it is unlikely that you will fully recover and the chances of relapse are high.
THE LONG TERM EFFECTS OF SEVERE EATING DISORDERS
If you suffer from eating disorders, seeking help is crucial. Consider the long-term and severe health consequences of malnutrition if you have any hesitation in seeking assistance.
With insufficient nutrition, the brain shrinks, and this results in a loss of IQ. There is a loss in bone density, especially in adolescents where the bones are still developing. Because malnutrition disrupts the hormones, people with eating disorders can become infertile. Infertility can be permanent. Malnutrition causes the muscles in the body to atrophy, and this puts undue stress on the heart. The vast majority of premature deaths caused by anorexia nervosa, for example, are as a result of heart disease.
Don’t wait if you have an unhealthy relationship with food. Help is at hand, and the sooner you seek help, the easier and more complete the solution.
It is time for you to accept yourself and celebrate who you are. — Greta Gleissner LCSW