Choosing the Best Eating Disorder Treatment Centers
Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, affect up to 24 million people in the United States, according to the American National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, or ANAD. Despite the prevalence of these mental illnesses, ANAD reports that only 35 percent of sufferers seek treatment at a dedicated eating disorder treatment center.
Men and women struggling with eating disorders need to seek out the best eating disorder treatment, which sometimes includes treatment in a dedicated facility for such disorders. The staff members at these facilities are highly trained in dealing specifically with disorders like anorexia and bulimia, allowing them to provide truly specialized care.
The Need for Residential Treatment
Residential treatment facilities offer specialized and current treatment options for eating disorders. Although many patients with anorexia or bulimia are successfully treated on an outpatient basis, for others, residential treatment is crucial. Inpatient care is particularly important for patients with long-standing disorders, those at risk of self-harm, or those with substance abuse problems in addition to their eating disorder.
In contrast, standard outpatient therapy is effective for many other patients, though it needs to be overseen by doctors and therapists specially trained to deal with eating disorders.
The Risk of Self-Harm and Substance Abuse
Two groups of patients with eating disorders are at particular risk and are thus most strongly advised to pursue residential treatment. Self-harm and suicidal thoughts sometimes accompany eating disorders, and if you’ve experienced either, seek help immediately by calling emergency services, your therapist or a residential treatment center. Furthermore, substance abuse and addiction require specialized care, and many residential facilities have expertise in both types of treatment.
Self-Help and Behavioral Therapy
The foundations of treatment for anorexia and bulimia consist of self-help groups and behavioral therapy. Residential treatment facilities center around these techniques, providing peer support as well as professional therapeutic care to help speed recovery. Self-help techniques involve meeting with a group of peers struggling with the same or a similar disorder to learn coping techniques, provide encouragement and process the treatment; these groups are a core part of residential treatment communities. Residential facilities supplement these groups with behavioral therapy provided by licensed professional counselors specially trained to deal with eating disorders.
Interpersonal therapy is another method of treating eating disorders, in particular bulimia. Although effective, it typically takes longer than self-help and behavioral techniques. Residential centers specializing in interpersonal therapy thus advise patients to expect a longer stay.
Medications and Eating Disorder Treatment
Doctors often prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications to help patients suffering from bulimia. These medications help reduce the urge to binge and purge by addressing potential triggers. Other medications are sometimes a part of treatment regimes, and at residential facilities, these medications are prescribed and monitored by staff physicians. Additional pharmaceutical treatments are also sometimes necessary for patients struggling with other addictions or disorders related to their eating disorder. In general, medications are considered a supplement to therapy rather than a first course of treatment for eating disorders.
The Importance of Solid Nutrition
Another crucial aspect of treatment for eating disorders is nutrition. Residential facilities carefully coordinate the nutrition they provide to help make up for deficits incurred by patients’ disorders. They also carefully select meal plans to help avoid exacerbating patients’ disorders or prompting relapse. Nutrition programs are among the biggest advantages of residential treatment over outpatient therapy, as residential staff members are able to manage patient nutrition much more carefully than a private therapist or clinician who only sees the patient a few times a week.
Length of Treatment
The length of treatment for eating disorders varies greatly depending on the severity of the case and other factors. Residential treatment programs are generally conducted over a matter of months or even a year, in keeping with the typical program for self-help and behavioral therapy. Residential programs that emphasize interpersonal therapy take longer.
Often, it takes some time for patients and caregivers to arrive at a personalized program of treatment that has maximum effectiveness. However, some patients make faster progress if their illness responds more quickly to treatment.
Eating Disorder Treatment Center Locations
Treatment centers specializing in eating disorders are not hard to find, and many general rehabilitation programs offer programs for anorexia or bulimia in addition to other treatments. This gives anyone suffering from an eating disorder a wide variety of options when choosing a treatment center.
Many people prefer to select rehab programs at a large distance from their homes in order to more effectively disrupt harmful routines; although this is not crucial for eating disorder treatment, it is an option. Others, however, find it more comforting and financially reasonable to select a treatment center near home.
Paying for Residential Treatment
Treatment for eating disorders is not a short process for most people, making residential treatment very costly. It is important to give any treatment pursued some time to evaluate whether it is effective or not, so there are no quick rehab options. Furthermore, since many patients go through other programs of treatment both before and after residential treatment, patients’ financial resources are often squeezed. Anyone considering a residential course of treatment needs to carefully consider payment options, beginning by consulting with insurance providers and financial counselors.