Anorexia Nervosa Treatment
All successful anorexia nervosa treatment programs utilize the skills and knowledge of a team of medical professionals: mental health, medical, registered dieticians, and family counselors. Anorexia nervosa is defined as a serious eating disorder. For the most part, the disorder affects primarily teenage girls and women in their twenties, but it can affect anyone. According to a website that provides information about anorexia, the disorder is characterized by a pathological fear of weight gain. This fear leads to faulty eating patterns, malnutrition, and excessive weight loss. Many medical experts claim the disorder will not simply disappear or go away by itself. A highly structured anorexia nervosa treatment program and support system is needed to treat the disorder. Currently, there are no medications to treat eating disorders of any type. However, mediations can be used to treat problems associated with faulty eating habits, such as depression. For the most part, intense therapy combined with education is the only course of action available.
The four medical team members of the anorexia nervosa treatment program all work toward one common goal, but use different methods and techniques to attain a healthy body and mind of the person in their care. Psychological counseling helps the person with the eating disorder learn healthy ways to think about food and her body. Medical professionals help with any health related issues that have resulted from malnutrition or starvation. A registered dietician helps develop healthy eating patterns. Finally, a family therapist strives to educate parents and family members about the destructive characteristics of the illness, and how proper diet and exercise are essential to achieving optimal health. Well designed anorexia nervosa treatment programs are joint efforts. Fortunately, there is one more team member: God. The spirit will suffer along with the body and mind, so seek God's guidance and counsel. Ask a pastor to be part of the recovery plan, and make prayer an integral part of the treatment program.
If the eating disorder is not treated quickly and a person's weight drops to dangerous levels, hospitalization may be required to restore healthy weight and eating habits. Hospitalization may be the only option, if health problems have occurred because of malnutrition or starvation. Many websites providing information on anorexia nervosa treatment suggest that people who are 15 percent or more under what is considered a healthy weight for their age and height will have a difficult time gaining weight without professional assistance. And people who are 25 percent or more under a healthy body weight will likely require hospitalization to restore health. A typical characteristic of eating disorders is that a person may not even realize there is a problem. Well, the young woman may realize there is a problem, but it's not low body weight. The suffering person's understanding of the problem is distorted. Generally, she will see herself as being too fat no matter how skinny or wasted her body actually has become. Therefore, intervention by a friend, family member, teacher, or church member is often required before an anorexia nervosa treatment program is started. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones." (Proverbs 3: 5:8)
Unfortunately, malnutrition and starvation are direct results of anorexia nervosa. Once malnutrition starts to break down the body, medical treatment is the primary concern of the anorexia nervosa treatment team. One website lists several signs of malnutrition. Obviously, low body weight is one of the visible signs. But some symptoms and signals are not easily seen by others. For example, a malnourished person may have low blood pressure and a slow heartbeat. The person may also feel cold all the time and have purplish skin from poor circulation. Dry skin, brittle nails, thinning hair, and shrunken breasts are signs, too. Stopping or never getting a monthly period is also an indication of malnutrition. Since some of the warning signs are not outwardly visible, concerned family and friends must probe for more information, if an eating disorder is suspected.
Although the list of health related problems is extensive; osteoporosis, heart problems, and depression are three of the primary health concerns. Again, many signs and symptoms of the disorder are clear and obvious, but parents, family, and friends have to be knowledgeable about what to look for and take the initiative to get seek out an anorexia nervosa treatment program, if a problem is suspected. A person with an eating disorder has a fear of gaining weight, and she may see her body as overweight. Causes of the illness vary from person to person. But an overwhelming desire to change body image is the root of the problem. A young woman may believe she has to look like women seen on television, in an advertisement, or at school to be accepted. To achieve the desired body image a person may be restricting or excluding certain types of food or being secretive about eating habits. Over exercising is a red flag as well. Many people fighting with eating disorders resort to vomiting, laxatives, and diuretics to lose weight. All these methods are potentially dangerous. Vomiting can reduce teeth enamel. Laxatives can cause dependency or constipation once they are discontinued. Diuretics can cause dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance. And none really accomplish what the person intends.
Anorexia Treatment CenterAn anorexia treatment center may be the only place a person that has an eating disorder may be able to find real help. Anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric illness that is defined by extremely low body weight and body self image. It is an illness that usually affects adolescent females and is usually manifested in purging, voluntary starvation and the taking of laxatives. The tragedy of anorexia is that even after a person is skeletal in appearance, she or he (in about 10% of the cases) views their self as being overweight. In at least 6% of the cases, death occurs as a result of the mental illness.
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are often confused terms. Bulimia is often much harder to discover because bulimics are usually at a normal weight. Bulimics often over eat due to stress or depression and then purge through vomiting, fasting or the use of laxatives and diuretics. This purging is often done in very private settings and this activity is then difficult for loved ones to discover. Bulimics often eat enormous amounts of food that some may consider comfort food, Ice cream, cakes, pastries and other items can sometimes amount to as many as twenty thousand calories a day. Bulimia is usually most prevalent among models, dancers, those involved in gymnastics and runners. However, women who are very high achievers are often the most prone to begin bulimic activity and certain anorexia treatment centers are able to treat both types of food addiction issues.
Because of the usually deeply ingrained attitudes, beliefs and practices that are associated with anorexia, the average stay at an anorexia treatment center may be us long as four or five months. This is because of the time it takes to gain the patient's trust and to begin to see healthy weight gain. In many cases, effective therapy that results in long term behavior modification cannot take place until a normal weight is achieved. At an anorexia treatment center the first weeks of residence must include an inordinately large amount of time in the client being supervised so that trust can be built. During these first weeks, hope must often be restored and motivation must be ignited. In these first weeks, psychological one on one therapy is frequent and group therapy is primary.
An anorexia treatment center will no doubt take the team approach to caring for those who have this illness. Medical doctors will be needed to take care of immediate physical needs such as electrolyte imbalances, dehydration and malnutrition. Mental health professionals are needed to help the client deal with the low self esteem issues as well as family issues that may have help lead to the condition. Finally, dieticians will be used to prescribe a diet that can bring health back to the client in a healthy way. As a result of all this treatment, the cost of using an anorexia treatment center can be quite expensive. Many insurance programs do not cover long in house stays. This can be a problem because relapse rates are higher when treatment ends too soon.
This psychological disease is not easily overcome. It can end up being a lifetime battle for people and while the symptoms can go away, they often reappear when there are times of high stress in a person's life. One of the most difficult battles that professionals have who treat this disease is the belief by many clients that there is nothing wrong with them. Sadly, there are actually anorexic websites in the World Wide Web that encourage people to practice this deadly conduct. It is actually promoted as a healthy lifestyle by some ill informed people. There are no medications that have been recognized by the FDA as a treatment for this disease, so an anorexia treatment center may only be able to address the often accompanying depression that come with the illness.
Because health insurance may not be exactly sympathetic with in-house treatment programs for this illness, many programs are designed to be day only treatment. One particular anorexia treatment center uses a proprietary computer program that the clients use while eating to help them learn how to eat correctly. Many of the centers that are online are situated in very restful geographic locations so as to provide as much relaxation and as distraction-free an atmosphere as possible. If you are the parent of a child suffering from this illness, know that God is very aware of your hurt, pain and worry. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble...therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea..." (Psalm 46: 1, 2)
It is important for parents to know that while it may be easy to point fingers at them for a child's anorexia, they are not typically the main cause. Of course, there are certain behaviors such as continual criticism of a child and little praise in the home that could certainly influence a child in negative ways. But studies have shown that there may be greater influences at work for an anorexic child than even what is going on at home. Some people may actually be genetically predisposed to this illness. And if a mom has struggled with this illness, it is quite possible that it may affect one or more of her children. There is no doubt that while this illness has been around for several centuries, the cultural emphasis upon thinness and beauty does not help foster healthy attitudes in young people.