Treatments for anorexia are complicated and usually long term. Unfortunately, there's no "one size fits all" approach that will be successful for everyone, but there are some common threads that seem to work for the majority who are entering anorexia treatment.
First of all, it's vitally important that your therapist(s) and physicians have some sort of experience in treating eating disorders.
Early in my anorexia recovery process, I figured it didn't matter - a doctor is a doctor -- but.....
Eating disorders are their own beast, and they most definitely require someone with specialized knowledge and experience in dealing with the unique mind set of those battling an eating disorder.
Treatments for anorexia work best when the individuality of the patient is considered and taken into account when selecting interventions and types of therapy.
Most people I spoke to while I was in treatment at Remuda Ranch said that they felt more at ease once they knew they would be involved in some of the decision-making processes regarding their treatment plan - (within reason, of course!).
There are not many illnesses - physical or emotional - where a high degree of communication and teamwork is more essential than in treatments for anorexia and other eating disorders.
This is what makes eating disorders unique, time-consuming and complicated for our physicians.
Treatments For Anorexia: Usually Long Term
The overall type of treatment that I've received is referred to by clinicians as the patient-centered approach.
This is the process of the doctor(s) attempting to get involved in their patient's world and trying to see the illness through their eyes.
It's essential that someone try to understand and relate to our deep, dark, frightening world. If doctors or therapists don't attempt to understand our complex, disordered thoughts, then how can they possibly treat us effectively? It sounds like a simple process, but it's far from it.
More often than not, patients view clinicians as "the enemy" which makes it excruciatingly difficult for doctors to gain trust or to begin to find any sort of common ground. This process alone can weeks, months, or maybe even years.
Teamwork is essential for any kind of outpatient treatments for anorexia, or other eating disorder treatment. This team usually consists of a medical doctor, a dietitian, and a psychotherapist, whether it's a social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.
There are several different types of psychotherapy that may be used, including:
My particular treatment team is made up of a psychologist, a psychiatrist (to monitor medications), a medical doctor and a dietitian When an individual gives permission for all members of the team to communicate with one another, it truly enhances the outpatient treatment experience.
Read more details about the treatment team for outpatient treatment of anorexia.
Seeing someone admitted to one of the eating disorder treatment centers is probably the last thing you'd want to happen to your loved one.
Anorexia and other eating disorders are life-threatening illnesses, and there are times when a patient's medical condition becomes dangerously unstable. In these cases, intense care and supervision are required.
An eating disorder clinic can also provide the patient with more structure in his/her day. This takes a huge load off of the sufferer - although they likely won't realize it at the time.
In general, what's anorexia inpatient treatment like?
What's a day like inside an eating disorder clinic? I received treatment at Remuda Ranch, which included Canine Therapy. Read about my experience at Remuda.
The anorexic diet is usually referred to as a method of self-starvation where an individual eats nothing for days or weeks on end.
Although a fair number of individuals with anorexia do actually eat, they eat minimally - often picking at food or moving it around the plate to create the illusion that normal amounts of food are actually being consumed.
It's also typical anorexic behavior to not have conventional meal times. For the most part, anorexics will do almost anything to avoid the anxiety of the breakfast-lunch-and-dinner routine.
When you learn how to eat healthy during recovery from anorexia, a new anorexic diet emerges with the help of nutritional counseling.
One of the (many) important issues in treatments for anorexia is building muscle mass. Self starvation eventually causes muscle atrophy, or deterioration of the muscles in the body.
This is an extremely serious medical concern because the heart is a muscle. In severe cases, anorexics have gone into full cardiac arrest because the heart is not strong enough to do its job.
This is how the treatment team can help prevent muscle atrophy and assist in building muscle mass.
It may sound a little old-fashioned, but keeping a journal can be a very effective tool for both patients and clinicians when it comes to treatments for anorexia.
Find a quiet, serene place and record your thoughts and feelings.
This will help your doctors to help you sort out any distorted thought patterns. It also helps when dealing with intense emotions.
It would be especially important to keep track of anything related to the "eating disorder voice".
Read more about how keeping a journal can help with anorexia treatment, and get some helpful journal writing ideas!
I've pulled together a list of eating disorder clinics that may be helpful to you. The list includes a brief description of the clinic, their location and contact information.
NOTE: Inclusion in this list is not an endorsement, nor is it an indication of any clinic's quality of care. Read the full Disclaimer notice for this site.
This information is provided to you for reference purposes only. You'll have to contact the treatment centers directly if you need detailed information regarding their eating disorder treatment programs.
Because I was treated at Remuda Ranch it is the only clinic for which I may be able to provide some extra insight. I know a little bit about how things run and what the treatment experience is like.
View the list of Eating Disorder Treatment Centers
The bottom line is that treatments for anorexia must include a collaborative, solid patient-physician relationship. This is the first step in re-building the individual's confidence in herself/himself, and restoring his/her sense of connection to others.
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