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What Are Eating Disorder Treatment Centers

Updated on April 23, 2013
Wikimedia Creative Commons, CC BY-SA, 3.0
Wikimedia Creative Commons, CC BY-SA, 3.0 | Source

Treatment centers for a growing epidemic

According to the EDC, the Eating Disorders Coalition, there are almost 11 million Americans who suffer from an eating disorder of some type. Almost half of all Americans know someone with an eating disorder and although for adolescents anorexia is the third most chronic illness, the disease is spreading quickly among seniors and men as well. Due to these statistics many eating disorder treatment centers have opened up across the country.

What is an Eating Disorder Treatment Center?

You may be thinking, "Is an eating disorder really such an issue?" Many people are confused and frustrated by their friends and loved ones who suffer from an eating disorder. Some people feel it is an overindulgent, spoiled way of attracting attention to one's self. Anorexia and bulimia are anything but self indulgent. It is a pervasive disease that eats through a person's mental state as well as their physical state. It destroys families, friendships and eventually can kill. For this reason eating disorder treatment centers came into being.

Eating Disorder Treatment Centers are the Next Level of Care

Typically, when the individual decides to enlist help for their eating disorder they often go to their primary physician who will send them to a counselor and a psychiatrist. Occasionally group therapy is recommended along with family counseling. Depending on the physical health of the individual admittance into a hospital is sometimes necessary.

The primary focus for an inpatient hospital stay is to medically stabilize the patient and stop any further weight loss. Usually a one to three week stay in a behavioral unit would provide adequate care for some, but unfortunately patients with an eating disorder may need more specialized care.

An eating disorder treatment facility is considered a better option because it treats the patient as a whole person. At a treatment center the patient will generally be admitted for a period of 30 to 90 days. There they will receive 24 hour care provided by an entire team of eating disorder specialists. This comprehensive treatment plan encompasses all aspects of the patient's life including family therapy, substance abuse treatment, nutritional therapy, etc. Upon graduation from the program, the patient will then commit to an outpatient program of aftercare.

The Eating Disorder Treatment Center Can Identify Co-Occuring Disorders

There is always more than one piece to any puzzle. Often the treatment a patient receives for the eating disorder through an outpatient center is just enough to treat the initial symptoms or physically stabilize them, but what if the patient has more than one disorder and that goes untreated?

When this happens the patient with an eating disorder often relapses over and over again. Relapse causes negative and hostile feelings for the patient to overcome. He or she may be mad at themselves for not succeeding and sink emotionally to a new low. This makes subsequent tries at recovery even more difficult and the patient is then faced with an even higher hurdle to jump.

These other "puzzle pieces" are referred to as co-occurring disorders. As a person tries to recover and makes strides in their treatment, there may be underlying disorders that will bring the patient back into their old routine thus causing relapse.

At an eating disorder treatment centers there is a plan dedicated to unlock all the issues a patient may have and determine if these are contributing to the eating disorder.

The following are examples of co-occurring disorders:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Self-Injury
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

What to look for in a treatment facility

There are many factors to consider when choosing a center. Whether this is for a loved one or yourself it is important to research the following areas.

  • Location is important because family counseling is one of the cornerstones to a successful treatment program. Although with Skype and other video conferencing tools family counseling can usually be done any wear. But it is nice to be near a loved one.
  • Is the patient an adult or child. Many programs are for teens and adults. Some accept children or young adolescents.
  • Does the program accept men? Some are women only. Note: Due to the shifting demographics of this disorder this may change.
  • Does the facility accept insurance and what type. Many do accept Medicare/Medicaid. Again, another sign of the times.
  • What type of therapies does this program use?
  • Does the treatment program offer therapy for co-occurring disorders and what kind?
  • Is there spiritual based counseling?

These are just a few areas to research when selecting an eating disorder treatment facility.

If you have a friend with an eating disorder the following tips may help you talk about it

  • First decide a time when there will be enough time for your friend to open up about his or her ed. If one or both of you must rush off, your friend may decide she does not want to speak freely about it.
  • Make sure the area is private, quiet and free from distractions.
  • Write down what you want to say, but be willing to let your friend control the conversation.
  • Avoid words that sound threatening or judgemental like "You just don't eat anymore. What's wrong with you?" or Why do you want to be so skinny?
  • Be willing to take your friend to counseling or to the doctor if they are afraid.

LA Elsen © April 2013 All Rights Reserved


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