Eating disorder therapy has come a long way in recent years as doctors and researchers have gained a greater understanding of what causes eating disorders, how they manifest, and how they are best dealt with. Today, most eating disorder treatment programs take a multi-faceted approach. That is to say that they deal with eating disorders in several different ways concurrently. Here's a closer look at the major elements of today's most effective eating disorder treatment programs.
At their heart, eating disorders are mental disorders that have physical consequences. The best eating disorder therapies have a strong focus on psychotherapy. The therapist who works with the patient will discuss their past, any trauma they have faced, the pressures they have felt, and any previous diagnoses. Based on this information, they will try to connect the dots and determine which emotions and traumas are connected to the eating disorder. Then, by talking through those traumas, they can help patients come up with healthier ways of handling them. The change won't happen over time, but with ongoing therapy, an eating disorder patient can change the way they think and the way they respond to their own thoughts.
The reason eating disorders are so dangerous is that they have profound effects on physical health. A good treatment program will assess the patient's health to identify issues like muscle wasting, heart palpitations, and dry skin that may be attributable to the eating disorder. A doctor will prescribe any medications necessary to manage these conditions until the patient is eating better on their own. They may prescribe a feeding tube, if needed, to keep the patient's physical health in check.
Food Habit Adjustments
The last major component of most eating disorder treatment programs involves learning better food habits. This means learning to eat regular meals again, feeling comfortable when eating in the presence of others, and feeling confident eating foods that the patient has avoided or been afraid to eat. A therapist and nutritionist usually work together on this facet of treatment. As treatment progresses, the patient will be challenged more and more. The exact tactics used will depend on the patient's symptoms. For example, patients with anorexia will be challenged to eat more and more over time. Patients with bulimia will be challenged not to purge after each meal.
To learn more about the various elements of eating disorder treatment programs, talk to a doctor or therapist at the facility you're thinking about working with.