Eating Disorder Treatment and Recovery
Eating disorders are among the most severe mental illnesses affecting teens today. The National Eating Disorder Association ranks anorexia as the third-most common disorder among adolescents, with bulimia not far behind. Considering that both diseases could become fatal if left untreated, the sheer volume of teens currently suffering from an eating disorder becomes all the more disconcerting.
The following article is an intimate, albeit brief, look at eating disorders. Below, we will discuss the varying types of eating disorders and the necessary types of psychiatric treatment best suited for treating said potentially fatal, compulsive eating habits.
At Clearview Girls Academy, we wish to extend our services beyond those who employ our services. By creating the following article, we hope to educate parents so they are fully equipped to identify and address potential eating disorders that may significantly affect their child's health.
We hope this article will provide any worried and overwhelmed parent with information that will make it possible for them to identify and (most importantly) seek treatment for their child's eating disorder.
(Note to Parents: Even if your child does not currently suffer from extreme eating habits, it is nonetheless crucial to be prepared for all possible self-destructive behaviors that could befall your teenage girl in the future.)
What Causes Eating Disorders?
Like most severe mental health disorders, the development of an eating disorder is as complex as the illness itself. As of this writing, psychiatric professionals are still unsure about the root cause of eating disorders. However, eating disorder experts theorize they are most likely the result of several factors that include biological, behavioral, and social circumstances.
Social circumstances are perhaps one of the most prevalent and severe components out of the factors above. These social elements include genetics, traumatic experiences, peer pressure, and bullying.
While we might not be sure about how eating disorders are developed, we know when they are most likely to occur. According to eating disorder specialists, eating disorders typically develop after teen experiences significant weight loss - accidentally or otherwise.
Teenage Eating Disorders by the Numbers
- As many as 50% of teenage girls and 30% of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors that are symptomatic of an eating disorder.
- 50% of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight.
- 86% of people with eating disorders experience eating disorder symptoms before the age of 20.
- 25% of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a method of managing their weight.
More shocking revelations from a similar study found that 10 million females currently suffer from some type of eating disorder - almost all of whom started experiencing eating disorder-related symptoms during their adolescent years.
The Most Common Types of Eating Disorders
Anorexia - Teens suffering from anorexia attempt to lose fat by eating as little as possible. In most cases, the teen's perception of their body is significantly distorted, which in turn, leads them to lose weight well beyond what is considered, 'normal.' Since they perceive themselves as fat, it is difficult to convince them otherwise - even if it is pretty evident to the contrary.
Bulimia - Teenagers with bulimia nervosa typically 'binge and purge' by engaging in uncontrollable episodes of overeating (bingeing), usually followed by compensatory behavior such as: purging through vomiting, use of laxatives, enemas, fasting, or excessive exercise. Eating binges may occur as often as several times a day but are most common in the evening and night hours.
Treatment for Eating Disorders
As it is with all compulsive behaviors, eating disorder rehabilitation starts with recognizing there is a problem. While recognition can be a complicated process, it is gravely important that parents help their daughters reach this realization.
After the afflicted teen is able to come to terms with their diagnosis, they are finally able to begin their recovery journey.
When it's time to locate treatment, parents should not be hasty. There are many types of treatments to consider. The most effective type of program greatly depends on their daughter's issues, the severity of said issues, and the environment in which she is most likely to be open to treatment.
It's also important to remember that eating disorders are learned behavior, which means, contrary to inborn mental illnesses, eating disorders can be 'unlearned.' With this in mind, parents need to seek out the treatment that can assist their child with 'unlearning' their compulsive eating behaviors.
Most traditional and convenient therapies - such as one-on-one therapy sessions, etc. - are incapable of adequately addressing and treating issues as significant as eating disorders.
While some people can overcome their extreme eating habits by merely engaging in regular therapy sessions, most suffering teens require inpatient or residential care.
With residential treatment, teens are given access to the best clinical care that is available. This premium care typically includes invaluable psychiatric assistance from psychologists, psychiatrists, nutritionists, and behavioral experts who specialize in eating disorder-related symptoms.
Residential treatment for eating disorders provide the following exclusive benefits:
- 24-hour care - which, of course, is needed when treating deep-rooted behavioral disorders.
- Physical activities - physical activities/exercise promotes positive health benefits, such as working out, hiking, playing sports, etc. This vital aspect of the treatment is crucial as it encourages more than physical benefits, such as self-worth and self-confidence, which are necessary when treating eating disorders.
- Group therapy sessions - These particular forms of therapy are overseen by a clinical therapist specializing in eating disorder recovery and generally include 10-20 patients. During these peer-group therapy sessions, teens develop coping skills, psychotherapeutic skills, body awareness, and, of course, nutritional knowledge.
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