People who suffer from an eating disorder, be it anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, need help to overcome their condition. Nobody really knows how many people in the US have an eating disorder as many are undiagnosed, however it is believed that roughly 18 to 20% of those who don’t receive treatment may die, while for those that do receive treatment, the statistics are from 2 to 3%.
One of the major problems is diagnosing and identifying when anyone has an eating disorder.Â In the latter stages it can be painfully obvious just by the physical aspect, but this may be too late.Â Eating disorders can last for many years without it being apparent.Â The classical image of a starving young girl is only one reflection of an extreme eating disorder but for many an appearance of a low body weight is justified with logical sounding reasons.
Another difficult aspect is denial which can only be overcome when the person accepts his or her illness – and then there is the willingness to accept help.Â Friends and family play a really important part here as they are the ones who will realize that their loved one is in trouble. And this is also one of the reasons why more awareness of eating disorders is necessary.
Over the last few years as awareness has increased, and much of this has come from celebrities that have come out acknowledging their illnesses, we have gained knowledge and therefore treatment has progressed from the previous either misdiagnosis or forced feeding.Â You have to realize that the relationship to food in an eating disorder is a sign, and reflects the outcome, of other psychological situations.
Treatment centers are available – some have considerable track records, others are newer but with professionally trained people.Â Although with individual variations according to the school of psychotherapy, treatment will include:
An initial assessment to establish a diagnosis.Â This will include (but not be limited to) history of the patient, current situation that includes physical aspects such as weight, body mass and the presence of other aspects like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or personality issues.
Most times you will find a multi-disciplined team of professionals that include a dietitian/nutritionist, mental health specialist and a physician.Â Some centers will also work with the family.
Depending on the diagnosis it could be: Outpatient treatment, which means programmed visits to the center and falling into an established process for the recovery. Or A residential care process which provides a controlled environment and direct care for the treatment.Â Eventually this is replaced with the outpatient treatment.
As mentioned there are different schools of psychotherapy which have proved effective and the duration of the treatment will vary from a few months to a few years; and not all patients will have the same recovery period.
Nutritional Counseling is normally presented – eating disorders manifest themselves by the relationship to food.