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The 5 Most Important Things You Must Know about Eating Disorder Treatments
When it comes to eating disorder treatments, we have to act fast. Waiting is not a good idea, and we want to try to start treatment as soon as symptoms show up.
That’s because early intervention leads to the best possible treatment outcomes. When families take action during the first 3 years of an eating disorder, their loved one is much more likely to recover.
That might be because disordered eating behaviors can get cemented as time goes by and, therefore, harder to treat.
Body Image & Eating Disorder Treatment
Usually, the first noticeable signs of an eating disorder have to do with body image and self-esteem.
In other words, the first things to go wrong are the thoughts we have about ourselves. They become hurtful, recurring thoughts that make us feel bad in the skin we’re in.
These types of issues start before someone ever purges, restricts food, or binge-eats. In fact, negative body image and low self-esteem can show up in children as young as 6. That’s long before the typical age of onset for eating disorders.
Harsh, critical thoughts about our bodies/appearance are a risk factor for eating disorders later in life. So, if you’ve noticed your loved one experience these body image issues and symptoms of low self-esteem over the years, it’s probably a good idea to start a conversation about eating disorders.
Teenage obesity is well on the rise, especially in the developed world. Why? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Starting a dialogue about healthy body image from a young age can help.
Therapy is a good idea for young people who are feeling bad about themselves and already starting to diet, binge eat, abuse drugs, or self-harm.
It can help address low self-esteem, and reinforce a loving relationship with one’s own body. Which hopefully, will prevent body image issues from ever turning into an active condition?
Eating Disorder Treatment Step 1: Getting a Diagnosis
Even though stepping in before a young person even develops risky eating behaviors is ideal, it’s not always possible. These are signs that your loved one needs treatment because they have already started to engage in compulsive, disordered eating behaviors.
- Changes in appearance: Are they gaining or losing a lot of weight? Do they look unhealthy or tired? What about their hygiene? Sometimes, not always, people struggling with eating disorders don’t keep as clean or tidy as they did before.
- Eating in Private: Eating disorders (EDs) lead to uncomfortable, sometimes shameful, feelings about food and eating it. That’s why people with EDs start to develop seemingly strange rituals around food and hide their eating habits.
- Has your loved one been evasive about joining meals or eating together?
- Do they offer food yet never seem to eat it themselves?
- Do you see evidence that they’ve eaten a lot while alone in their room?
- Other Mental Health Symptoms: EDs have high amounts of comorbidity. That means they usually go along with other mental illnesses like anxiety and depression, bipolar disorder, addiction, or personality disorders. Have you noticed any severe changes in their mood? Are they withdrawing?
If you’re noticing these alarming signs that something is wrong, seek out professional help as soon as possible. A psychologist/psychiatrist, medical doctor, or eating disorder specialist can help you get the right diagnosis so you can move forward with treatment.
This disorder is characterized by extreme food restriction and sometimes purging. Usually people with anorexia nervosa lose weight quickly until they are very underweight.
This is the earliest of all mental health disorders because it not only leads to life-threatening health threats, but it also increases the risk for suicide and deaths related to substance abuse.
There is evidence that anorexia has a genetic component, and people are more likely to become anorexic if someone else in their family struggles with an eating disorder too.
The main characteristic of bulimia nervosa is the binging and purging behavior.
People with bulimia tend to eat a lot of rich food all at once then do something to purge it from their systems. They may do unhealthy things like make themselves throw up, use laxatives or restrict food.
3. Binge Eating Disorder
Unlike bulimia or anorexia, binge eating disorder does not usually involve food restriction behaviors. It causes people to use food like addicts use drugs or alcohol.
Binging and overeating become compulsive behaviors which often lead to obesity or other health problems.
The longer someone lives with their eating disorder, the more likely they are to struggle with correcting their weight and ED symptoms for the rest of their lives.
Adults with eating disorders tend to have chronic issues with recurring relapse. Research shows that the longer an eating disorder goes on, the more severe and less receptive to treatment it becomes.
Reach out to a trusted eating disorder professional as soon as you can. Early treatment is the best way to help your loved one avoid a life-long battle with food and eating.
Article by Marlin Anderson