Eating Disorder Treatment
Centers for eating disorder treatment are located all around the country and can offer help and healing for those suffering from anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating. If left untreated or the patient is unresponsive to therapy, these food addictions can be fatal. So these centers for eating disorder treatment are often in a life and death fight for their patients and their specialized treatment and their staffs have a unique perspective on the underlying causes of these many-headed disorders. While these three major disorders or diseases can affect a wide spectrum of ages and ethnicities, and while the sufferer of anorexia will physically appear wildly different from those who have a compulsive eating disorder, the causes are often very much the same. The heart of the treatment for all these patients is group therapy, personal counseling, education and in some cases, medical intervention.
There are some centers for eating disorder treatment that are very private and quite expensive. In most cases, they are nestled in the woods in some idyllic setting around the United States or on some very peaceful mountainside that oozes exclusivity. These centers are located in such settings in order to help the client maintain focus on the process at hand. Other centers that are not as exclusive are often connected to a hospital outpatient wing or may be on a secluded floor of the main building. But in all of them is a staff of nutritionists, therapists, counselors and doctors of various disciplines. All these professionals are ready to help. But the Creator of the universe is also ready. "Out of the depths I have cried unto thee O Lord...I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait and in his word do I hope." (Psalm 130: 1, 5)
Anorexic patients are usually teens and college students, typically female although there are a small percentage of males who are also afflicted with the illness. The patient is usually quite concerned about body image and has transferred that concern into an obsessive fear of gaining weight. The fear turns the patient into someone who is slowly starving to death through purging, non-eating and excessive exercise. An anorexic patient is usually at fifteen percent below normal body weight and cannot perceive the often skeletal appearance as being abnormal. Counselors who provide eating disorder treatment are faced with those patients who are often bent on perfectionism, have low self-esteem, suffer from clinical depression and often host suicidal thoughts. And therapists who are responsible for helping these patients must fight through a culture that worships svelte, thin, and lithe and the attitude that Farah Fawcett was too full figured to ever be considered attractive.
Bulimia has many of the same underlying emotional causes but the disease is manifested in a different manner. Bulimics are most often young women who young, upper-class and high achievers. But bulimia can strike men and women of all ages. Bulimia is characterized by binge eating, brought on by sadness, depression, stress or anxiety. The binge eating is then followed by purging, or perhaps heavy uses of laxatives. While bulimia has no highly identifiable causes, like anorexia the culture of perfect bodies is thought to be a definite contributing factor by experts who provide eating disorder treatment. If a young woman has been teased about her body shape in the past, it can trigger bulimia. Bulimics often come from families where physical appearances were emphasized and diets reigned supreme.
Compulsive overeating patients who become clients at eating disorder treatment centers are also haunted by intense emotional issues that may trigger their self destructive behavior. The list is a familiar one: depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, along with obsessive compulsive disorder, and a number of other issues. The compulsive overeater may not be overweight or may be obese, but is a binge eater that is usually triggered by some emotional trauma. This person suffers through deep depression, hates himself after binging, blames his social failure and professional setbacks on weight issues and is tormented by eating habits. Often this overeating leads to a number of physical problems including hypertension, heart issues, diabetes and other life threatening ailments.
Be it anorexia, bulimia or compulsive overeating, psychotherapy is an important part of the counseling program at an eating disorder treatment center. Part of the psychotherapy is cognitive behavioral in nature. This is a method by which the therapist seeks to help the client begin thinking differently by identifying negative patterns of thinking. People who have illnesses such as eating disorders often have patterns of thinking that enlarge the negatives, minimize the positives and overgeneralizations. The therapist and the client work together to overcome these negative ways of thinking that so often trigger the self destructive behavior.
The conundrum that an eating disorder treatment center faces is that one the one hand there is the great desire that a loved one may have for a child or spouse to be healed of an eating disorder, but on the other hand until the client himself or herself admits to having a problem, there is nothing the center can do. If the reader struggles with an eating disorder, you are urged to face the issue squarely on immediately, and seek help. If you are the parent or the spouse of an affected person and they are in denial, seek out a support group for yourself. Find some kindred spirits who are going through your pain and worry. Pour your heart out to God and listen for His response.
Eating Disorder HelpEating disorder help is available at many food addiction treatment centers around the country. Some of these centers are private, expensive and quite elite and others are connected to hospital services. In almost every case, eating disorders are connected to some kind of addiction, whether it is addiction to food, addiction to weight loss or something in between. Eating disorders fall into three main areas: compulsive overeating, bulimia and anorexia. These disorders cause not only severe health issues, but in some cases are fatal. While it is estimated that as many as 40% of Americans of all ages are obese, anorexia and bulimia are typically that battles fought by young women, although a small percentage of men are also included in their statistics.
Food addiction treatment centers know that eating disorder help begins with a discovery of the underlying emotional causes of the illness. In fact, in the cases of anorexia, the disorder is called a mental illness that needs very specific intervention by trained medical professionals that can go to the heart of the problem. Bulimia is also seen as a mental disorder that requires trained intervention to help the patient understand the issue in their lives that might be driving the behavior. With compulsive overeating, certain emotional triggers can bring on such behavior and need to be understood by the patient in order to overcome the addictive behavior. This is why eating disorder help may be expensive and take weeks or months to treat with professional help.
People who eat compulsively are typically affected deeply by their emotions and eat to fill a particular voice that they fell inside. When stresses get to be too much to handle, food is a natural source of pleasure and a diversion from reality. Of course, the overeating leads to immense physical problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol issues, arthritis and stroke. But eating disorder help doesn't come from just telling people with compulsive tendencies to stop eating or to lose weight; in fact, these words often just bring on more negative eating behavior because of guilt. This kind of behavior in which people often hide food in strange places for later consumption takes the intervention of professional counselors in order to have an effect on a person's mind and to break the cycle of addiction.
Typically the young woman who suffers from anorexia will have a very dramatic weight loss in a very short amount of time. She may begin trying to wear baggy clothing to hide her weight loss and will talk obsessively about needing to lose weight or about being too heavy. She may excuse herself and go to the bathroom after meals in order to "purge." She may be almost skeletal in appearance yet complain of being very overweight. Obviously this kind of behavior affects the entire family and often eating disorder help must be extended beyond just the patient to include the entire family. And websites for eating disorders are quick to point out that those people in such a situation may not appear to be underweight and may not even display any of these symptoms.
Bulimics are typically young women who are high achievers and have great ambitions. Bulimics often go on long food binges only to "purge" after the binge in order to avoid the caloric intake. They also may excuse themselves from the meal table after meals to go into the bathroom to vomit. While those suffering from anorexia may actually hide food from their hosts in order not to eat it, bulimics may hide food in order to eat it later. Both anorexia and bulimia sufferers use laxatives, diet pills and even ipecac syrup indiscriminantly with sometimes fatal results. The truth of God and His word can speak peace to the heart of an eating disorder sufferer. "God be merciful unto us, and bless us: and cause his face to shine upon us; that thy way may be known upon the earth, thy saving health among all nations." (Psalm 67: 1, 2) (Italics the writer's)
Strangely, many people with eating disorders have the belief that thinness is the answer to all of life's problems. Even those who eat compulsively and are overweight have that same feeling, which is, in fact, untrue. Eating disorder help must address these underlying belief systems that permeate the thinking of those addicted in some way to food. Treatment centers that are responsible for eating disorder help therapy must fight against the current American and world view that thin is beautiful and anything else is not. Even the more full figured Marilyn Monroe of fifty years ago is viewed as being out of style and non-appealing to media and culture alike in the 21st century.
Help for food addictions ought not to be left until sever symptoms begin their manifestation. Parents of young women must be tuned in early to their daughters' thinking and lifestyle. Making the assumption that everything is fine when some of the early signs of anorexia or bulimia begin to flower should be taken very seriously. Anorexia claims as fatal as many as six percent of its victims. Parents should pay particular attention to their children learning healthy eating habits from the very beginning and not wait until they are in junior high or high school to begin looking at eating disorder help. Homes that are encouraging, non-competitive, positive and involved can help children avoid the later pitfalls of such behavior, but even then, there are no guarantees.