It can happen before you know it. A night of binge eating after a bad breakup. Skipping a few meals to fit into that outfit for the big event. Then seemingly out of nowhere, you’ve developed an eating disorder or ED that’s causing all kinds of damage to your health and well-being.
While teenagers and adolescents experience eating disorders at a disproportionately higher rate, anyone can find themselves dealing with the condition. Eating disorders are complex and usually require professional treatment in order to properly recover. ED rehab is one option for dealing with severe cases that aren’t manageable through other treatments. Learn how to recognize the signs that you might need to go to rehab for an eating disorder.
Importance of Treating ED Issues
The most common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating. These conditions typically manifest around the ages of 12 through 25, and women are more likely to be afflicted than men. No two eating disorders are alike, but almost all of them stem from low self-esteem and body acceptance issues. Other risk factors for eating disorders include major life changes, traumatic or stressful events and a family history of eating disorders.
Quickly identifying and treating eating disorders is imperative due to their harmful effects on both the body and mind in just a short period of time. In addition to dangerous fluctuations in weight, physical issues from eating disorders can range from brittle hair and nails to interrupted menstrual cycles and fertility challenges. Not to mention the emotional and social toll that having an eating disorder can inflict on yourself and your friends and family.
It doesn’t take too long for eating disorders to turn into more serious conditions that require medical attention if left untreated or unmanaged. In the most severe cases, eating disorders leads to malnutrition, unstable blood pressure and organ failure. If this occurs, you may face an extensive recovery that could lead to a lifetime of medications and ongoing treatment.
Treating eating disorders properly is also crucial due to the high risks of relapsing, which is defined as slipping back into eating disorder patterns or behaviors while in recovery. Eating disorder relapse is very common, and studies show over a third of people relapse on their eating disorder within the first two years of treatment. Reclaiming a healthy relationship with food and developing a positive self-image are two keys to avoiding a relapse.
How Can Therapy Help ED?
Medical treatment and even hospitalization might be necessary to manage the physical aspects of eating disorders, but mental health treatment is typically required to handle the underlying psychological issues that cause eating disorders.
Rehabilitation for eating disorders can include a range of different therapies designed to help you recover from your eating disorder and support you in developing healthy habits. Your rehab will likely include some form of evidence-based, time-limited therapy plan that’s tailored to your specific needs.
One type of therapy that may be used for eating disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy is tailored to the individual and focuses on modifying behaviors by changing the thoughts and patterns that lead to those behaviors.
Another form of therapy that’s proven effective for eating disorders is interpersonal psychotherapy. This involves analyzing your eating disorder in the context of your relationships with others to discover emotional deficits and unresolved conflict that could be contributing to your condition.
How Addiction Can Influence ED
All too often, addiction and eating disorders go hand-in-hand. Nearly half of people who suffer from eating disorders also report abusing drugs or alcohol. However, it makes sense that substance abuse and eating disorders are so closely linked, given that they share many of the same risk factors. Namely, these include addictive personality, depression and anxiety and impulsive behavior.
Some people can become addicted to over-the-counter medications like laxatives and diuretics that serve legitimate purposes but may be abused by individuals with eating disorders. Certain drugs, such as heroin or methamphetamine, exacerbate eating disorders since they can suppress your appetite and make it even harder to eat enough food and have sufficient nutrient intake. Likewise, alcohol poses additional threats to individuals with eating disorders because consuming alcohol on an empty stomach means the alcohol goes directly into your bloodstream and is not first absorbed by the contents of your stomach.
Treating an eating disorder that’s influenced by addiction is complicated since substance drugs and alcohol can wreak havoc on the body and make people more resistant to treatment. That’s why eating disorder rehab should be strongly considered, especially if you have a concurrent substance addiction.
What Can You Expect at ED Rehab?
Whether it’s rehab for anorexia, bulimia, binge eating or another disorder, the first step is for the facility’s health care providers to assess your condition and determine your care needs. Outpatient rehab is typically less intensive, and you can expect to attend rehab a few times a week. In-patient rehab is generally for those who have more severe cases that may require more monitoring and attention.
Eating disorder rehabilitation facilities are designed to help you recover by placing you in a structured environment with care personalized to your needs. Your meals will likely be supervised for your safety, and you’ll gradually work up to tasks such as cooking for yourself or shopping for food. Your family or other loved ones may also be included in your course of treatment.
Rehab Can Help You if You Are Struggling With ED
Eating disorders are difficult to overcome, but not impossible. Early and adequate treatment is the key to successfully managing an eating disorder. If left untreated, eating disorders can lead to lifelong or life-threatening complications.