In the United States, more than 30 million people are living with eating disorders. This includes people of all ages, sexes, and economic backgrounds. Eating disorders do not discriminate, and people from all walks of life deal with disordered eating. Eating disorders can be deadly, something that many people do not realize.
Of course, many people who live with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia may have a lot of questions about eating disorders and the treatment options available. Some may not even realize that they have the condition until they seek help. If you have questions about eating disorder treatment, this guide will help you understand.
How Common Is Eating Disorder Treatment?
While tens of millions of people in America alone suffer from eating disorders, many cases go untreated. Many people feel ashamed of seeing treatment for eating disorders, even though they should not be. Treatment facilities like Fairwinds offer a safe environment for those who need time and space to heal.
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, nearly one percent of all women experience anorexia at some point in their lifetime. About 1.5% of women have bulimia at some point. Nearly 3% live with binge eating disorder. Unfortunately, too many people will not seek help. They may not realize they exhibit symptoms, or perhaps they fear social stigma.
How Does a Doctor Diagnose an Eating Disorder?
The diagnosis for each type of eating disorder is based on the specific condition. For instance, anorexia nervosa comes with different symptoms than bulimia nervosa. While many people conflate the two, it is important to understand the distinction.
While many people think they can diagnose an eating disorder on their own, it is actually much more difficult than it appears. Often, an eating disorder stems from another underlying cause. For this reason, you should rely on professionals to make the call. Our expert staff members and physicians can correctly diagnose an eating disorder and create a treatment plan for the future and to prevent relapse.
Avoiding self-diagnosis is also important because each eating disorder is different. While some eating disorders may have overlapping symptoms, each one requires a specific plan of action. The treatment for bulimia differs from the treatment for anorexia or binge eating disorder, for instance.
What Is Anorexia Nervosa?
Anorexia nervosa is a condition in which the patient does not intake enough food, which leads to a significant drop in weight. People with this condition typically possess an intense fear of weight gain, and they may exhibit purging behaviors. Anorexia has serious medical consequences, and it can be fatal. Many men and women who live with anorexia die by suicide.
Signs and symptoms of anorexia include a decrease in the amount of food a person eats, preoccupation with food and weight, anxiety about calories, skipping meals, self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, and excessive workouts. For instance, an individual may insist on exercising even if it is not safe to do so. Anorexia may also cause infertility, heart problems, and an irregular menstrual cycle.
Not all symptoms of anorexia are physical. People with this condition may exhibit extreme self-control, be highly sensitive to criticism, and experience hormone imbalances that lead them to act out of character. Men and women with anorexia may experience difficulty regulating their mood, and they may exhibit impulsive behavior. The condition can also contribute to depression and anxiety. You may notice that your loved one exhibits a distorted sense of their own appearance and weight.
What Is Binge Eating Disorder?
Binge eating disorder is a condition in which the patient frequently consumes large amounts of food. Often, binge eating disorder comes with the feeling that one has lost control over how much they are eating. People with this condition do not try to compensate for the calories they have eaten by vomiting, exercising, or using laxatives.
People with this condition do not exhibit purge behaviors to prevent weight gain, which means that binging can lead to significant weight gain. This type of eating disorder breaks with the common misconception that everybody with disordered eating is very thin. In fact, people with binge eating disorder may try to cut back at first, only to find themselves binging extra hard to compensate later.
Signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder include feelings of shame after eating, fear that one will lose control over their eating, and poor self-esteem. People with binge eating disorder may eat even when they are full or not hungry. They often eat in secret, especially when they feel depressed and ashamed. They may claim to be dieting, perhaps without ever losing weight.
What Is Bulimia Nervosa?
People with bulimia nervosa may exhibit binge eating symptoms, but they often induce vomiting and other purging behaviors to prevent weight gain. People with bulimia may be underweight, overweight, or a “normal” weight. Many people are surprised how often people with bulimia do not appear to have an eating disorder based on media standards.
The signs and symptoms of bulimia include binge eating (often in secret), concern with weight gain, feelings of shame about binging, secrecy about food intake, excessive exercise, intermittent starvation, abuse of laxatives, and self-induced vomiting.
Bulimia also typically comes with some unusual behavior surrounding meals. For instance, you might notice your loved one heading to the bathroom immediately after a meal, hoarding food, hiding food wrappers, or withdrawing from social opportunities.
How Do Doctors Treat Eating Disorders?
Treatment is available for anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. It is important to remember that while food plays a key role in eating disorders, there is much more than meets the eye. It is not as simple as forcing somebody to eat healthy. In fact, a lack of proper treatment could lead to relapse in the future.
Anorexia is often treated with behavioral assessment and nutritional rehabilitation. The goal of professionals is to help the patient achieve a healthy weight. Through therapy, a professional will help the patient correct some of their thoughts about weight. This will involve monitoring of weight gain and a focus on healthy eating. Relapse prevention is very important in these cases.
Bulimia has several treatment options. While some people pursue successful treatment on an outpatient basis, inpatient treatment is also helpful. Professionals help their patients with cognitive-behavioral therapy and on identifying triggers for disordered eating.
Binge eating disorders can also be treated with professional help. Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy, are all good options. Medications are also helpful.
How Can You Seek Eating Disorder Treatment for Somebody Else?
If you believe that somebody you love is suffering from an eating disorder, you might want to seek help for them. You may want to hold an intervention to confront your loved one about the problem. A doctor can help guide you through the process of confrontation and provide you with treatment solutions so that your meeting can be as effective as possible.
How Can You Tell Somebody Has an Eating Disorder?
You cannot tell somebody has an eating disorder simply by looking at them. Often, the media tells us that people who suffer from eating disorders are very underweight or overweight. The truth is that many people who have eating disorders look healthy.
You may be able to notice disorders if you observe your loved one eating. People with disordered eating often seem very preoccupied with food. They also often binge and purge, perhaps while expressing concern about how much food they are eating.
Do Any Other Health Conditions Come With Eating Disorders?
There is no single cause of eating disorders. Often, eating disorders coincide with mental health disorders and substance use disorders. Many people with eating disorders self-medicate, sometimes to help them deal with trauma. Disorders come from a combination of biological vulnerability, social concerns, and environmental issues. For many people, the symptoms may worsen over time and lead to other concerns, like depression.
Is Inpatient Treatment Always Necessary for Eating Disorders?
Some people thrive in outpatient treatment, but it is not for everybody. If you have already tried outpatient therapy or you are often worried about your food and weight in spite of going to therapy, you might benefit from inpatient facilities.
How Can You Receive Treatment for Eating Disorders?
The doctors and staff members at Fairwinds Treatment Center have experience treating people with a variety of eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia. Dr. Pauline Powers leads the Eating Disorders program at our facility. She has been internationally recognized as a researcher, educator, and trainer in her field and offers more than 40 years of experience. Additionally, Dr. Powers works with each member of the team to create a treatment plan that targets the symptoms of each patient.
If you or somebody you love is looking for treatment for an eating disorder, Fairwinds Treatment Center is here to help you. We understand that eating disorders are serious issues that require effective treatment, often right away. Call the center today to discuss your treatment options.
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