An Introduction To Treatment Options For Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is a complex and serious mental illness that affects over 28 million people in the United States. While it may seem that the media portrays eating disorders as simply a lifestyle choice, the truth is far more complicated. An eating disorder is a serious medical condition that requires treatment from an experienced medical provider. Here's what you need to know about eating disorders, what symptoms to look for, and potential treatment options for eating disorders.

What Is an Eating Disorder? 

An eating disorder is a mental illness characterized by abnormal behaviors and thoughts related to food, eating, and body weight. These behaviors can include excessive dieting, binge eating, or having extremely rigid rules about food intake.

What Are the Symptoms of an Eating Disorder?

The most common symptom of an eating disorder is a preoccupation with food, body weight, or shape. It can affect both women and men. Other symptoms can include:

  • Extreme dieting
  • Excessive fasting
  • Avoiding certain types of foods
  • Overeating
  • Purging or vomiting after meals
  • Excessive exercise
  • Hoarding food
  • Extreme fear of gaining weight
  • Feeling ashamed or guilty after eating
  • Feeling like you have no control over your eating habits
  • Anxious or depressed about your body image
  • Obsessively counting calories
  • Weighing yourself multiple times per day

It's important to note that you or your loved one may experience one or many of these symptoms. In addition, they vary depending on the type of eating disorder a person has.

What Are Treatment Options for Eating Disorders?

The best way to treat these symptoms is to seek help from a qualified mental health professional specializing in treatment options for eating disorders. Treatment typically involves working with the patient to develop healthier attitudes toward food and body image through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and nutrition counseling. Medication may also be used in conjunction with therapy to help manage any underlying depression or anxiety associated with the condition. In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary if the patient's health is at risk due to severe malnutrition or dehydration caused by the disorder.

What Happens at an Eating Disorder Treatment Center?

Eating disorder treatment centers focus on stabilizing the patient's physical health and teaching them healthier coping mechanisms. It typically includes individual, group, and family therapy and nutritional counseling. Depending on the severity of the disorder, patients may stay for a few weeks or months until they have developed the skills and strategies necessary to manage their condition.

Eating disorders can be incredibly debilitating conditions that take a toll on the patient's physical and emotional well-being. If you or a loved one suffers from any of the symptoms above, it's important to investigate treatment options for eating disorders and get the help you need.