As a parent, you only want what's best for your child. Yet ensuring they're looked after and taken care of can become a challenge if your teen struggles with an eating disorder. Unlike other issues such as a cold or flu that can be easily remedied, there can be many potential barriers to finding effective treatment for an eating disorder.
But in the end, making sure your teen is healthy and happy is the ultimate goal. And to achieve that, you must dispel misconceptions about eating disorders and work to understand exactly what treatment your adolescent needs to get better. Here's how.
"The first step is identifying the disorder your child is dealing with."
Understand the separate disorders
The first step to finding the right treatment is identifying the disorder, or multiple disorders, your child is dealing with. A damaging and common myth about eating disorders is that they are all the same. Yet the grouping together is not always malicious, some parents may just not understand the full severity and depth of eating disorders.
Knowing that you're not likely a doctor, it can seem impossible to try to diagnose your teen. But there are symptoms and behaviors that can help indicate exactly what your family and teen is dealing with. For instance, rapid and excessive weight loss or compulsive behavior can indicate struggles with anorexia; bulimia can be characterized by hiding of food, social withdrawal or physical injuries caused by self-induced vomiting. Each disorder requires it's own treatment plan.
Talk to the experts about options
The next thing to do is contact a medical professional or treatment center about what can be done. Just as there are different disorders, there are different treatment options to best target the nature and severity of the situation.
While it may not always be possible, try to involve your child in any discussions. Again, while this may not be feasible in every instance, the more knowledge that can be gained together, the better. Learning about what separates inpatient from outpatient settings can help you pick the best course of treatment for your child.
Ensure the care is holistic
Treatment for an eating disorder should entail much more than just medical treatment for the disorder itself. In almost every case, a mental health issue co-occurs with an eating disorder. This makes it essential that your teen get care for their mental health, and not just their body. It's important to broach the subject of psychotherapy and counseling, and whether those will be included in the treatment regimen. Group counseling, for example, can help teenagers understand they're not alone and learn from others in the same position. Therapy can help them address problem behaviors and stressors, as well as learn mindful and self-empowering strategies.
Another facet of treatment should be about what happens after leaving a program. Adolescents should receive nutrition education — like on what to eat or how to meal plan — and other assistance for maintaining a healthy life post-treatment.
If you want more information on what different treatments look like and which is best for your child, contact Fairwinds Treatment Center today.