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Treating Eating Disorders

How to Find Help Treating an Eating Disorder

An eating disorder is characterized by an extreme disruption in regular eating habits, whether it is eating too little or eating too much. Eating disorders involve extreme disturbances in eating behavior; following rigid diets, bingeing on food in secret, throwing up after meals or obsessively counting calories. But eating disorders are more complicated than just unhealthy dietary habits. According to the National Institute of Mental Health a person may start out eating less or more than usual and then the habit spirals out of control.

Some types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Both males and females are susceptible. It is not unusual for eating disorders to coexist with other anxiety disorders, depression or substance abuse. Eating disorders can be treated and are real illnesses.

Things To Know About Eating Disorder

An eating disorder can strike a person of any gender, race, age or body type. If you have or someone you know has an eating disorder it is important to understand the biological and psychological causes, according to NIH Medline Plus and to note that it is not about losing weight. It is also important to understand that eating disorders are treatable.

Steps You Can Take To Help Someone With An Eating Disorder

When you see a close friend or loved one struggling with an eating disorder the obvious impulse is to help. But knowing the right steps to take can be difficult.

If you suspect an eating disorder in someone you love educate yourself about the disorder. Then talk to that  friend. Treating an eating disorder varies from one person to another. Talk therapy and behavioral therapy are very effective for some whereas others may need medications such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, antipsychotics or mood stabilizers. For some people a combination of treatment methods is necessary for recovery.

The methods of treating eating disorders are tailored to individual circumstances and needs. Often talk therapy and medication are effective. Individual, group and/or family psychotherapies are helpful for some. Nutritional counseling and maintaining good nutrition are very important for recovery and medical care and monitoring may be necessary. Refraining from exercise and any behaviors of the illness such as bingeing or purging are paramount.

Be Prepared

The most important thing you can do when approaching someone about an eating disorder is to be prepared and educate yourself as much as possible about the disorder. The person you care about may be experiencing high levels of anxiety, shame, embarrassment, guilt or denial or may not even recognise that they have an eating problem.

It is important to take this into consideration and be prepared to deal with the person if they respond with anger or denial. Feeling angry or denying that there is something wrong does not mean that the problem does not exist.

Be Gentle And Loving Rather Than Attacking

Confronting the issue with a potential sufferer and letting them know you think they have a problem can seem daunting. A good way to go about it is to focus on you not on them. It’s all about being diplomatic and picking a good place and time where they’ll be comfortable and unstressed.

Use The Right Language

If you are approaching someone with an eating disorder you need to take into account their fear of disclosing this behaviour or feeling. Let them know that you care about them and that you want to help them face the problem and support them through every stage of the healing process.

Avoid putting the focus on food; instead try talking about how the person is feeling. Avoid manipulative statements, avoid harmful statement that may damage the person’s emotions or ridicule their behaviour as this can exacerbate the eating problem significantly.

Boost Their Self-Esteem

One of the best things you can do for an eating disorder sufferer is let them know that they’re loved and respected regardless of how they look.

Encourage Them To Get Better

Because an eating disorder is complex recovery involves lots of aspects of the sufferer’s health improving. Gaining weight alone is not enough and needs to be accompanied by psychological help, emotional support, help to repair their physical health and possibly medication. All of this takes its toll. Sadly it is common for sufferers to feel suicidal or as though the struggle to recover isn’t worth it. Do what you can to remind them that there is so much to live for, that recovery is possible and that in time they will be able to stand firmly on their feet again.

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