The primary focus of any eating disorder treatment program aimed at helping those living with anorexia is to find balance and health in eating properly. But like any difficult undertaking, this is achieved by taking small steps that build upon each other – and lots of time and practice. Healing doesn’t happen overnight, but with perseverance, treatment of anorexia nervosa can save the life of any person who is dedicated to learning how to live healthfully.
TOP 3 GOALS OF ANOREXIA TREATMENT
- Addressing medical issues caused by long-term starvation. The body needs calories to perform basic body functions, and when it is deprived of this energy source, malnutrition can develop. As a result, major organs can cease to function properly, the whole body slows down in an effort to conserve calories, and in some cases, serious failure of major organ systems can occur. When entering anorexia treatment, the first order of business is to stabilize the patient medically and ensure that they slowly begin to rebuild their stores of vitamins and nutrients and mend the damage that occurred during active living with anorexia.
- Building toward a healthy weight. Because the gastrointestinal system and other organ systems in the body may be unable to handle large amounts of food or certain foods right away, another goal is to slowly move the patient toward a healthy body weight. This can be difficult physically and emotionally, and it is done as slowly and safely as possible. The goals of treatment are to help patients build a healthy relationship with food, change perceptions about health and body image, and address disorder behaviors exhibited toward food so they can maintain a healthy weight on their own when they return home.
- Providing psychotherapeutic treatment to deal with underlying issues. No one develops anorexia simply to lose weight. Low self-esteem, body issues, environmental triggers, social factors, emotional stress or trauma, need for control – any one of these can be a driving force behind anorexia. It is important to address these issues thoroughly, exploring the truth behind the myths that make these problems feel so overwhelming, and learn new, healthy coping skills that don’t include self-starvation and disordered eating.
Who Is Most at Risk of Developing Anorexia?
Anorexia is a serious mental illness that affects people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, races, and ethnicities. It doesn’t care who you are or where you come from – it can strike anyone, anywhere, at any time. While anorexia is more commonly associated with girls and women, the truth is that boys and men are also at risk. In fact, eating disorders are on the rise among males, possibly due to the growing social pressures to conform to unrealistic body standards.
One group that is particularly vulnerable to anorexia is teenagers. Adolescence is a time of immense change and upheaval, both physically and emotionally. Teens may feel like they’re constantly under a microscope, facing peer pressure and scrutiny from every direction. Even innocent comments about weight or body shape can be enough to trigger a problem with distorted body image.
So, what causes anorexia? The truth is, no one really knows for sure. It’s likely a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. However, we do know that anorexia is not a choice, and it’s not a lifestyle. It’s a serious mental disorder that requires professional help to overcome. Extreme weight loss related to anorexia nervosa is considered a medical emergency, and early treatment is important.
Who Typically Treats Eating Disorders?
When facing an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa, it can be overwhelming to think about how to begin the journey toward recovery. But you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, having a treatment team of different healthcare providers can be a powerful tool in your recovery.
Your treatment team will be comprised of different professionals who will work together to provide you with the medical care and support you need to overcome your eating disorder. Here are some of the key players on your treatment team:
- Primary care provider: This is typically your first point of contact for any health concerns and can help you connect with other specialists if needed.
- Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist specializes in mental health and can provide medication management if needed.
- Psychologist or therapist: A therapist can help you work through any underlying emotional issues that may be contributing to your eating disorder.
- Nurse or nurse practitioner: Nurses can help with medication management and provide support throughout your recovery.
- Nutritionist or dietician: A nutritionist can help you develop a healthy relationship with food, create a balanced meal plan, and help you with your weight restoration.
- Social worker: A social worker can help you navigate any social or financial barriers that may be impacting your recovery.
- Case manager: A case manager can help coordinate your care and connect you with resources.
- Peer support mentor: A peer support mentor is someone who has gone through a similar experience and can provide guidance and encouragement.
Your treatment team may be located at a clinic or treatment facility, or you may visit them in different locations. Regardless of where you receive care, having a team of treatment providers working together to support you can make a tremendous difference in your recovery.
TREATING ANOREXIA AND CO-OCCURRING SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Anorexia and co-occurring substance abuse can be treated through a combination of therapies that address both disorders. Treatment plans may include different levels of care, including residential care, partial hospitalization programs, outpatient programs, and aftercare treatment.
The first goal of anorexia treatment is getting back to a healthy weight, which is essential for recovery. Depending on the individual and their symptoms, treatment options and types of therapy for individuals with anorexia can include:
- Medical care
- Nutritional counseling
- Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT)
- Behavioral therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy
- Family-based therapy
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT)
Substance abuse treatment typically involves detoxification, followed by behavioral therapies, medications, and support groups.
At Futures of Palm Beach, we help people and families struggling with the disease of drug or alcohol addiction, especially when complicated and accompanied by a co-occurring mental health condition like anorexia. Since substance abuse, drug or alcohol dependencies, can often co-occur with an eating disorder, our individualized treatment program is designed to explore and change the underlying core issues that drive each individual’s addiction and disorder. Our mental health professionals are here to help you gain control of your eating disorder and your addiction through our clinical, medical and wellness care programs. If you or a loved one is suffering from anorexia along with a comorbid medical or psychological condition such as addiction, call Futures today for the treatment outcomes you deserve.