Eating disorders are real psychological illnesses in which self-deprecating eating patterns cause emotional and physical damage to an individual. There are two major recognized eating disorders:
- Anorexia Nervosa – Anorexia is an extremely dangerous eating disorder in which a person deprives himself or herself of food, sometimes to the point of starvation. This refusal to eat is based on a self-perceived image of being overweight, even when that person becomes emaciated. Losing as much weight as possible is viewed as an achievement in the mind of an anorexic person. Anorexia nervosa is specifically defined as being at least 15% below one’s normal body weight relative to height and age, as well as a refusal to maintain any sort of normal minimal bodyweight.
- Bulimia – People who suffer from bulimia practice a pattern of binge eating, followed immediately by purging. Bulimic people will eat an abnormally large amount of food in a short period of time, and then immediately force themselves to throw it back up. This can lead to a myriad of physical and psychological health problems.
Properly Treating an Eating Disorder
The first step in treating an eating disorder is to address the physical well-being of an individual. For those suffering from bulimia, the first step in stopping the binge-purge cycle is to gradually establish a pattern of normal-sized meals, and the encouragement of a healthy exercise routine. For anorexic patients, the physical condition can be a much more serious issue. Sometimes, hospitalization is necessary just to keep a person alive. Eating disorders almost always go hand-in-hand with psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. Psychological treatment and counseling are of great importance when treating eating disorders.
At a professional rehab center, those suffering from eating disorders have the opportunity to work one on one with therapists who specialize in treating eating disorders. Group therapy is another major benefit of entering an eating disorder treatment center. Group therapy allows patients to share their struggles and experiences, which offers a view from the outside of what is affecting each individual’s own life. This may help some patients to recognize the damage an eating disorder can really cause.
In treating both anorexia and bulimia, family therapy is often encouraged as well. Family members’ attitudes toward a loved one with an eating disorder play a huge role in the success or failure of the treatment process. It is important that a patient’s family members learn how best to care for their loved one in the recovery process. For people with bulimia, psychotropic medications have shown to be effective in treating anxiety and depression, thus making it less likely that the person will relapse.
Get Help Finding Eating Disorder Treatment Centers
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