Finding a Eating Disorder Treatment Center
Everyone who has developed an eating disorder has a different story to tell. Often, they sound something like this: “I had broken up with my boyfriend and my whole life felt out of control. I was sad and angry, and I wanted to do something to make myself feel better. I decided that losing weight would be a good first step, as I knew I was a bit fat. I made lists of what I could and could not eat, and I started exercising all the time. As the weight came off, I felt so powerful and I resolved to lose even more. No matter what I did, however, I still felt fat and I kept wanting to lose more.”
The story may sound shocking, but unfortunately, it’s all too common. People all around the world are simply dying to be thin, and often, their behavior is rewarded by the culture that surrounds them. Consider this: In 2010, the Italian version of Vogue magazine pulled a series of photographs from its website. When reporters did some digging, they discovered that the images had been turning up on so-called “pro-ana” websites. These websites are favorites of those who have eating disorders, and the bloggers were using the Vogue shots as inspiration to drive readers to further weight loss. Until the photos appeared on these sites, the editors found nothing wrong with them. In other words, the editors and those with eating disorders accepted the distorted model as beautiful.
In a culture where thin is in and control is hard to come by, it’s easy to see how eating disorders take hold. By speaking up and fighting for those who have the disorders, families can turn the tide.
Eating Disorder Treatment
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Eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia, are the deadliest mental health disorders in the United States today. Yet few patients – or their families – recognize the severity of an eating disorder, believing that it is in some way healthy to be conscious about what you eat or how much you weigh. While eating properly is important, getting enough calories and the right nutrients to maintain healthy brain and body function is crucial. Without it, the body cannot continue to operate and without treatment, many patients with eating disorders will die.
If an eating disorder is a problem for you or someone you love, don’t wait to get help. Counselors are standing by to match you with a program that can provide you with the medical and psychotherapeutic care you need.
Medical Care Comes First in Eating Disorder Treatment
When you don’t eat properly, you deprive your body of the nutrients it needs to function. Many patients are dehydrated and malnourished when they enter treatment for an eating disorder, which means that the first order of business is physical stabilization.
When you are medically safe and ready to move forward in treatment, there are a number of options available to assist you in developing a more positive relationship with food. These include:
- Nutritional counseling. Learn how to shop, plan meals and eat to live.
- Family therapy. Your family needs to know how best to support you, and how to let you learn how to take care of yourself.
- Psychotherapy. Addressing underlying trauma and associated problems of poor self-esteem and body image issues can help you to stay on track for life.
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Teen girls are the most susceptible to eating disorders, but boys can also develop the same eating disorders. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 10 to 15 percent of people who have eating disorders are male.
Almost anyone can develop an eating disorder, but some groups of people may be particularly at risk. For example, people who participate in the entertainment industry as actors, dancers, gymnasts or models may be at particular risk for eating disorders, as they work in fields where being thin is particularly prized. People who have lost weight in the past and been rewarded for the behavior may also be at risk for developing an eating disorder. They may remember the compliments they received in the past, and they may believe they’ll receive even more compliments if they lose large amounts of weight.
Eating disorders tend to run in families, although researchers aren’t quite sure why. It could be that parents who have eating disorders of their own pass along their concerns and beliefs about food to their children in informal lessons, or it could be that there is some sort of genetic information that carries the risk of eating disorders. A study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, for example, found that people with eating disorders process brain chemicals slightly differently than people who do not have eating disorders, and those changes tend to persist when the eating disorders have been resolved. It could be that these brain changes lie behind the eating disorders themselves, but more research needs to be done on this topic.
Some types of stresses could also lead to eating disorders. The stress of these changes could put pressure on someone who is susceptible to eating disorders, and the cycle of controlling calories could begin. Examples of these stressful situations include:
- Ending a relationship
- Starting a job
- Moving to a new city
- Getting married
The most instantly recognizable form of eating disorder is anorexia. People with anorexia will experience severe, dramatic, overarching weight loss that is almost impossible to ignore. In addition to this weight loss, they may also develop other recognizable physical symptoms such as:
- Hair falling out in clumps
- Downy hair growing on the face
- Pale skin due to anemia
- Sluggishness and weakness
People with anorexia may wear baggy clothing in many layers to hide their weight loss and to stay warm. As they lose weight, it becomes difficult for them to maintain a normal body temperature, and they may shiver or experience goose bumps on a regular basis.
People with anorexia achieve this dramatic weight loss through a series of self-control steps. They may determine that certain fatty foods are off-limits and they may restrict their diets to just soda, diet foods and caffeinated drinks. They may eat just a few calories per day, and weigh themselves multiple times per day. They may avoid eating in the presence of other people, and when they do, they may simply push food around on the plate or cut the food into tiny pieces to make it appear as though they had eaten.
Over time, this severe malnourishment can result in:
- Heart attacks
- Brittle, thin bones prone to breakage
- Lack of menstruation
Left untreated, anorexia can cause death. The body cannot go for months or years without food, and systems begin to shut down. Even while the body is shutting down, the person with anorexia may continue to think that he or she is too fat. Some people with anorexia suffer from severe depression, and they may choose to take their own lives. In short, the risk of death from anorexia is incredibly high. According to a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, people who have anorexia have an increased risk of premature death from any cause, and only hospitalization early in the disease seems to help reverse that trend.
NAMI reports that about 50 percent of people who develop anorexia go on to develop bulimia. People with this eating disorder may allow themselves to eat from time to time. However, they may not allow themselves to digest the food they have eaten. Instead, they may make themselves vomit after meals in order to prevent themselves from ingesting the calories. Some take large amounts of laxatives in order to move the food through their bodies at a rapid pace.
Repeated vomiting can do serious and permanent damage to the enamel of the teeth. The acids in the stomach can wear right through the teeth, and the enamel does not grow back. In addition, people who vomit in order to purge may develop problems with their salivary glands due to the repeated purging, and they may also develop acid burns on their hands due to their vomiting.
Those who use laxatives also face serious problems, as the laxatives only help purge the body of salts and water, not calories. Without salts and water, the person faces an increased risk of seizure. In addition, some people develop a chemical dependence on the laxatives and they may be unable to have a bowel movement any other way.
Some people with bulimia are severely underweight, but others maintain a normal weight. Others may even be slightly overweight. In addition, not everyone who has bulimia purges after every meal. Some people develop a stress-based form of bulimia. When these people face incredible pressure, they eat incredible amounts of fatty foods in one large binging session. Once they’ve completed these binges, they feel terrible for their lack of self-control, and they purge up the food in one session. They may not go through these binge/purge sessions every day, so it might be hard to spot their disease based only on their weight loss. They may not have any weight loss at all.
Signs to Watch For
People with anorexia or bulimia may work hard to keep their disease private, but there are still some signs to watch for, including:
- Missing meals
- Complaining of being “fat”
- Losing large amounts of weight
- Developing calluses on the fingers or the back of the hand from repeated vomiting
- Refusing to eat in front of others
- Making large meals for others and not partaking in the meal
- Repeated weight checks
- Excessive exercise
It’s worth repeating that eating disorders can happen to anyone, of any age and any gender, so it pays to be on the alert for these problems. Anorexia and bulimia may be deadly, but they’re far from incurable. Therapies can help people learn to develop a healthy body image and a sound relationship with food. Often, family members must instigate these therapies, as people in the throes of an eating disorder may be unable to make these decisions for themselves. They need help from families in order to enter programs and get the help they need. Often, this means families must hold an intervention, to point out the risks of the eating disorders, and then families must require the person to enter treatment programs for the disease. It may sound harsh, but it is the best way to stop the disorders and help the person heal. Call us today and learn more about eating disorder treatment programs. We can help you start this important conversation and put your loved one on the road to wellness.
Eating Disorder Statistics
About 10 million American females and 1 million American males are believed to be living with an eating disorder like bulimia or anorexia nervosa. Binge eating disorder affects millions more, and the rate of treatment among all of these groups is sadly low. It is believed that even more women and men are struggling with the disorder but do not report it due to the stigma associated with their eating behaviors.
If anorexia, bulimia, binge eating or another kind of eating disorder is harming your health and your emotional abilities, contact us today to find a mental health treatment program that can help you develop a more functional relationship with food.
According to NationalEatingDisorders.org, the following is true:
- About 80 percent of American women say that they are unhappy with some aspect of their physical appearance.
- Eating disorders are the deadliest mental health disorder.
- Women between the ages of 15 and 24 who are diagnosed with anorexia have a mortality rate that is 12 times higher than all other causes of death.
- About 40 percent of new cases of anorexia are in girls between the ages of 15 and 19.
- The rate of bulimia diagnoses tripled in females between the ages of 10 and 39 between 1988 and 1993.
Only an estimated 33 percent of people diagnosed with anorexia and 6 percent of people diagnosed with bulimia will get the mental health treatment they need. Don’t be a part of this statistic. If you are living with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating or another eating disorder that is depleting your energy, mood and health, contact us today to find the right treatment for you.