Anorexia Treatment

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about eight million Americans suffer from eating disorders. Of these, seven million are women and the average age of onset of the disease is 19 years old. Considered one of the deadliest mental health disorders due to its detrimental effects on the healthy function of the body, anorexia requires immediate and comprehensive treatment.

Unfortunately, only 33.8 percent of those who struggle with anorexia will receive eating disorder treatment, according to NIMH. Whether they are ashamed to admit that they are living with the issue, don’t want to risk gaining weight during treatment, or fear that they don’t have the money to afford the help they need, patients should realize that anorexia eating disorder treatment is the only way to ensure a healthful return to functional relationship with food. Contact us today to find out more about the anorexia eating disorder treatment program options available near you.

Possible Causes of Anorexia

People who engage in the behaviors that make them candidates for anorexia treatment do not do so consciously. They fall into the potentially life-threatening patterns slowly over time. Although the causes of anorexia are not fully understood, there are some reasons that have been observed in many patients living with the disorder. Underlying issues can cause an individual to engage in anorexic behaviors. When these issues are not dealt with, they can repeatedly trigger the individual to use food or, in the case of anorexia, restrict food, in order to feel better or more in control. According to MedLine Plus, some of the possible causes include:

  • Unresolved body image issues
  • Low self-esteem
  • Inability to give up control
  • Low serotonin levels in the brain
  • Unrealistic family expectations
  • Depression
  • Past or present physical abuse
  • Sexual assault or molestation
  • A variety of psychological disorders (especially when undiagnosed)
  • Major life crisis

Quality anorexia treatment centers will not only help an individual to defeat the impulse to engage in anorexic behavior, but will guide them to understand what underlying issues drive those behaviors. When a person understands the situations and feelings that trigger their anorexic behavior, they are better able to replace their destructive coping mechanisms with healthy alternatives.

Anorexia IssuesObtaining a Diagnosis and Starting Treatment

As the saying goes, “The first step to getting help is recognizing you have a problem.” This statement couldn’t be more true for patients struggling with anorexia. Those living with this disorder do not consciously decide to start engaging in anorexic behavior. It is an insidious problem that takes hold slowly over a period of time. Unfortunately, most people with anorexia do not see that they have a problem. It generally takes health issues or the concerns of a loved one to make patients with anorexia understand that something needs to change (See: Anorexia Signs and Symptoms).

If you have concerns that you or someone you know may have anorexia, finding a mental health professional that can do an assessment would be the first step in getting help. Psychologists use a manual known as the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5th edition) to help guide them in the diagnosis of their patients for disorders such as anorexia. The following criteria is how the DSM-V defines the behaviors that are connected to anorexia:

1.) A refusal or inability to maintain a body weight that is close to what is minimally normal, given the height and age of the patient.

2.) A fear of gaining weight, even though underweight.

3.) A skewed view of body shape, weight and image, including denial that the current weight due to anorexia is at a dangerous low.

4.) Amenorrhea, or lack of a menstrual period, for at least three cycles in a row in girls and women of age.

Due to individual differences, a person does not necessarily have to have all of the above criteria in order to be diagnosed with anorexia. This is an introductory guideline mental health professionals use to determine how severe an individual’s anorexic behavior has become.

Prioritizing Medical Stabilization

Those who suffer from anorexia are depriving themselves of essential nutrients and the calories (energy) they need to keep going. The psychological aspect of anorexia is serious, but the physical health of the patient must be stabilized first. Without medical assistance, anorexia is a long, slow death. Highly qualified anorexia treatment centers are the best way to overcome the potentially life-threatening behaviors associated with this disorder. Without treatment, approximately 20 percent of those battling anorexia will die. With treatment, that statistic drops to between two and three percent.

Types of Treatment

Inpatient anorexia eating disorder treatment is most often described as the most effective method for treating anorexia. However, outpatient options are available as well for those who find that it better fits their lifestyle. Anorexia treatment is intensive and deals with the physical and the emotional elements of anorexia. Regular medical care and support available around the clock can ensure a successful recovery and peer support can be invaluable, according to Eating Disorders Anonymous. Developing positive relationships with others who are also struggling with eating disorders and with staff members who are there to help can be effective in both inpatient and outpatient anorexia eating disorder treatment programs. Specific types of anorexia treatment include:

Anorexia Treatment

  • Inpatient medical care. When physical health is a priority, inpatient facilities provide a hospital-like setting and focus mainly on the medical issues surrounding anorexia. Constant structure and supervision are provided to ensure that the patient sticks to their treatment plan.
  • Residential anorexia treatment. The goal of a residential treatment center is to provide a home-like atmosphere for recovering patients. Physical stabilization is monitored and maintained but the focus of treatment is on the psychotherapeutic progress of the patient as he or she works through underlying issues that drive the anorexic behavior.
  • Supported living. In some residential anorexia treatment programs, patients are expected to perform all the skills and chores associated with daily living. They will generally do their own shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry. This allows the patient to learn how to live free of anorexic behavior while still enduring the presence of daily stressors in order to develop new skills that will allow them to maintain their recovery. It also lets the patient incorporate food-related activities like food shopping and cooking with professionals present who are experienced in helping them to cultivate healthy behaviors around these endeavors.
  • Outpatient anorexia treatment. About 75 percent of those who enroll in anorexia treatment opt for outpatient services because they can return home each night, maintain work and school schedules, and remain actively involved in their children’s lives. Less expensive than inpatient treatment, different programs will offer different services, allowing patients to create a treatment plan that fits their needs.

Treatment Services

A wide range of anorexia treatment services is available to patients in different types of programs. These help the patient to heal both during a treatment program and after they have returned home. Some common anorexia treatment services include:

  • Nutritional Counseling. Nutritional counseling is instrumental in assisting anorexics in learning how to have a positive relationship with food. Someone with anorexia has taught herself that starving is a “healthy” way to live. In anorexia treatment, nutritionists and physicians teach patients about the devastating consequences of anorexic behavior on the body and what a healthy, well-balanced diet looks like.
  • Structured Meal Time. Patients will learn how to plan meals that are nutritious and have enough calories to reach or maintain a normal weight range. Shopping for and cooking meals are part of treatment for anorexia as many patients have not had healthy habits around these tasks in years. If a patient needs to gain weight, her meals will be around 3,000 calories a day. For those who have worked to reach a healthy body weight, they will eat around 2,200 to 2,500 calories a day for maintenance.
  • After Meal Supervision. Usually for at least one hour after each mealtime of the day everyone in a residential anorexia treatment spends time together. This ensures no one in the group can go purge their food in secret. This amount of time can seem excessively long if you’re alone, but goes by much faster when there are other people to talk to having the same experience.
  • Journaling. Keeping a daily journal has many benefits for someone undergoing anorexia treatment. Usually these individuals keep their feelings inside and don’t reach out to others for support. Learning to get in touch with emotions and write down thoughts, fears and anxieties can be a therapeutic undertaking. Residential anorexia takes this process a step further and has everyone read their journals aloud to the group. This teaches someone to share their emotions with others and that they can learn from and relate to others people’s stories as well. This helps those struggling with anorexia start forging much needed social connections and friendships.
  • Art Therapy. This is a great way to provide individuals time to socialize in a less pressured situation where they have another distraction. They can also engage in a creative process to express their feelings. Many times art becomes a source of emotional release that patients continue to use once they leave their residential anorexia treatment program.

Find A Program That’s Right for You

If you would like to learn about the anorexia treatment programs available to you, contact us today for more information. We can match you with a comprehensive anorexia treatment option that will address your personal food issues and provide you with the medical and psychotherapeutic help you need to heal.

What to Expect From Treatment

The specifics of eating disorder treatment can vary depending upon the treatment center, but most will start with psychological and medical assessments to get a baseline for your treatment program. From there, you will make appropriate treatment goals and map out a plan for how you will reach them. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, anorexia treatment should include:

  • Psychological assessment. Underlying psychological conditions like depression and anxiety are common in anorexics and often identified during anorexia eating disorder treatment. About 50 to 75 percent of those with anorexia are also living with a major depressive disorder. Obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety and addiction are also common among anorexics. The correct protocol for treatment can be determined based on the results of initial evaluation and diagnostic services.
  • Physical assessment. The behaviors of anorexia wreak havoc on the physical body. About 20 percent of anorexics will die from the illness due to cardiac arrest or suicide, and most patients entering treatment are in extremely frail condition. The state of each patient’s physical health will be gauged for treatment.
  • Addiction treatment. About 12 to 18 percent of anorexics live with drug and alcohol addiction. Treatment can be received for both disorders simultaneously at Dual Diagnosis treatment facilities.
  • Nutrition classes. Educational workshops should be included in anorexia eating disorder treatment to help anorexics better understand healthy eating and learn how to maintain weight in a healthful way.
  • Counseling. Psychological counseling helps anorexics to address their aversion to food in addition to the underlying psychological issues. Self-esteem, depression, trauma and other common factors are tackled during psychological treatment.

Benefits of Getting Help

Because the negative consequences of anorexia permeate every aspect of the patient’s life and experience, so too will the benefits of receiving proper medical and psychotherapeutic care to address the issue and improve quality of life in a number of areas. Some benefits provided by a comprehensive anorexia treatment include:

  • Learning to build friendships
  • Strengthened social skills
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness
  • Gaining the understanding that success and failure are all part of recovery
  • Peer and therapeutic support that provides encouragement on the difficult days to continue treatment
  • Bolstering against relapse
  • Increasing or developing self-esteem