Dealing with a loved one who is suffering from an eating disorder is particularly difficult and may even be impossible if the individual refuses to admit that they have a problem. As with most mental illnesses, the first step toward recovery is admitting that there is a problem. Unfortunately, many adolescents and young adults who suffer with eating disorders such as Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder, will accept their eating disorder as a part of who they are and, rather than trying to recover from their eating disorder, they embrace it. They don't see their behaviors as odd or unhealthy, but rather as a way of dealing with circumstances in their life which they feel that they have no control over. Helping them to see the disease for the danger that it is and gain a desire to heal is equivalent to trying to convince a toddler to give up a security blanket.
A key element for recovery of an eating disorder is accepting that the disordered behaviors are harmful and having a desire to change them. There are a variety of treatment centers geared toward treatment of an eating disorder. These treatment centers have professionals on staff who understand the multifaceted issues surrounding eating disorders. An important factor which they understand is that many eating disorders overlap. Most people who are trying to overcome an eating disorder are not only suffering from their primary symptoms, but also secondary eating disorders as well. For example, a person may have symptoms largely indicative of Anorexia Nervosa, such as extreme weight loss, dry skin and hair, and brittle nails. They may develop a fine, light colored coat of hair called lanugo all over their bodies. This is the way the body attempts to insulate itself as body fat dissipates. Menstruation will eventually cease as well. There will also be changes in personality as hormones are thrown out of balance. While these physical symptoms are generally attributed to Anorexia Nervosa, they can also be indicative of other eating disorders including Compulsive Eating Disorder, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder. Many people suffering from Anorexia will also have aspects of Bulimia. When the starvation finally becomes too much, they will give in to temptation and will binge. The guilt and self loathing immediately following the binging episode will encourage the individual to purge or exercise excessively to eliminate the calories that were ingested. Similarly, a person who primarily suffers from bulimic tendencies may have episodes of self starvation and anorexia followed, eventually, with a slip back into a binge/purge pattern of eating. Complicating the matter, Binge Eating Disorder and Compulsive Eating Disorders have deep seated emotions attached to them as well. Because of these various factors, it is nearly impossible for the average person to know if or what eating disorder a loved one is dealing with. It may be easier to assume that the loved one is not dealing with an eating disorder because they don't 'fit the mold'.
Effective treatment for eating disorders can be obtained from qualified professionals at an eating disorder treatment center. These eating disorder treatment facilities are run by qualified and caring professionals who have vast experience in the wide array of eating disorders. They have Registered Dieticians with experience in anorexia and bulimia disorders who are able to provide the right mix of calories and nutrients to facilitate weight gain, healthy weight loss, and overall improvement in eating habits. They have psychologists with expertise in caring for patients with eating disorders. They have doctors who are able to assess the overall health of a patient who is suffering from bulimia, anorexia, compulsive eating, or binge eating disorders. These treatment centers may specialize in one particular eating disorder such as Anorexia or Bulimia, or they may focus on all eating disorders. Their programs, while different in the details, all have the same goal of providing the patients with mental and physical healing from their destructive behaviors.
Treatment facilities for eating disorders have programs specifically designed to help the patients recover from bulimia, anorexia, and other eating disorders. These treatment clinics are generally residential treatment centers where the patients live on site until they have achieved a certain level of health. At this point, they are discharged home, but are still followed closely to see that they maintain their recovery from bulimia, or their improvement in anorexia type behaviors. These eating disorder treatment clinics have programs set up for people at all stages of an eating disorder. They are designed to provide help for eating disorders on all levels. They are staffed by caring professionals who have specialized in eating disorder rehabilitation. Some of these programs include eating disorder support groups where patients can discover that they are not alone in their need for help with their eating disorder. Eating disorders, particularly Anorexia and Bulimia, are very secretive and the knowledge that they are not the only people with these tendencies can be very empowering. Other programs may include equine assisted therapy or other animal based assisted therapies. Work programs, exercise therapies, and others geared toward building self awareness, self-esteem, and confidence.
Unfortunately, many people who suffer from eating disorders will begin seeking help on their own. This can be risky, particularly if they seek this help online. There are many websites which not only discourage seeking help from a treatment facility for eating disorders, but which encourage the illness. This group support for eating disorders, rather than hel, anding, can severely hurt an eating disorder patient as they will begin to see their disease as a part of them and will try to hang onto it rather than cure it. These so-called 'thinspiration' websites hook up people who may be seeking recovery from anorexia or other eating disorders with others with similar problems. The down side of this is that they swap ideas on how to hide their illness, how to purge more effectively, how to avoid food without others noticing, etc. This can be a deadly effect of seeking help for an eating disorder from unqualified sources. These sites can be particularly detrimental for adolescents suffering from eating disorders. Teen eating disorder treatment is particularly difficult, as the adolescent years are such a time of change, self discovery, and self awareness. A teen who may be afraid to seek treatment for an eating disorder or who may be looking for additional information on recovery from anorexia may stumble onto one of these sites and decide that their illness is not actually a bad thing. This can be a deadly mistake!
There are a wide variety of treatment facilities for eating disorders. Some of them focus on a particular illness, leaning toward treatment for bulimia, or maybe specializing in treatment for anorexia. Others may focus on binge eating disorder treatment or trying to assist in recovery from compulsive eating disorders. The best way to decide if a treatment facility, particularly a residential treatment facility, is the right one for you or your loved one is to contact the facility and ask them about their programs for eating disorder recovery. They will give you information about their facility, their specialists, and the options they offer. Since treatment for eating disorders is such an individualized thing, it is very important to find the right fit. This is particularly true for in patient eating disorder treatment centers. Regardless of which program you decide on, the important thing is to take the first step and seek recovery from a qualified eating disorder treatment center.