Eating Disorder Treatment: The Road to Recovery

Addressing and treating an eating disorder can be a complicated and lengthy process. Treating an eating disorder doesn’t just mean getting a patient back on a healthy eating regime, it also means restoring an individual’s self-worth and addressing the underlying psychological issues that cause feelings of body dysmorphia, food-related obsessions and compulsions, and low self-esteem. Remember, eating disorder treatment will vary depending on a wide range of factors, including the type of eating disorder, the patient’s past medical history, and the patient’s age and physical condition.

What is an Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder is a type of mental health condition characterized by irregular eating habits, extreme behavioral and emotional responses to food, and distorted body image beliefs. The four main categories of eating disorders are:

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)

There is considerable variance in the signs and symptoms of different eating disorders. To give you an idea of what an eating disorder might look like, we’ve listed some common symptoms below:

  • Binge eating large quantities of food
  • Compulsive purging of food through vomiting or laxative abuse
  • Excessive fasting
  • Very restricted dieting, leading to dangerous weight loss and malnutrition
  • Obsessive calorie counting and over-exercise in order to prevent weight gain

    What Treatments are Available?

    Available treatment options for a person with an eating disorder will depend on the severity of their condition. If an individual is suffering from severe malnutrition or emaciation, they will need to be admitted to the hospital for refeeding, rehydration, and a full medical evaluation. In less severe cases, people struggling with an eating disorder will usually begin receiving treatment after they get in contact with a doctor or eating disorder specialist.

    Once a full medical evaluation has been conducted, treatment will vary depending on a person’s overall physical and mental condition. While specific treatment will differ between different conditions and patients, most eating disorder recovery programs include some form of mental health counseling, nutritional therapy and, in severe cases, prescribed medical treatment for dehydration, malnourishment, or other side-effects. Remember, there is no quick fix that can cure an eating disorder. It may take some time before a person recovering from an eating disorder feels at ease with regular eating habits and portion sizes.

    If you are suffering from an eating disorder, you are not alone. To kick-start, the recovery process, contact a medical professional and consider opening up about your condition with a trusted friend or family member.

    Sources: Mayo Clinic, Help Guide, Psych Guides

    Photo: Pixabay

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