Eating Disorder Treatment And Recovery

Eating disorders are among the most severe mental illnesses affecting teens today. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, anorexia is the third most common disorder among adolescents, with bulimia not far behind.  Considering that both disorders could easily 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, as well as the necessary types of psychiatric treatment that are best suited for treating said, potentially fatal, compulsive eating habits.

At Turning Winds 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 be greatly affecting their child’s health.

In short, 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 any and all possible self-destructive behaviors that could befall your teenage boy or 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. In fact, 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 aforementioned factors. These social elements include genetics, traumatic experiences, peer pressure and bullying.  

While we might not be sure about how eating disorders are developed, we do know when they are most likely occur be. According to eating disorder specialists, eating disorders typically develop after a 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.[16]

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 quite 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 admitting there is a problem. While admission can be difficult, it is paramount that parents are able to help their child reach this realization.

After the afflicted teen is able to come to terms with their potentially fatal-diagnosis, they are finally enabled to start their recovery journey.

In terms of seeking treatment, there are many options to consider. It’s also important to remember that eating disorders are a learned behavior, which means, contrary to inborn mental illnesses, eating disorders can be ‘unlearned.’ With this in mind, it is important for parents to seek out the treatment that is able to assist your child with ‘unlearning’ their compulsive eating behaviors. Unfortunately, most traditional and convenient therapies – such as one-on-one therapy sessions, etc. – are incapable of properly addressing and treating issues as significant as eating disorders.

Residential/Inpatient Treatment

While some people are able to 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 required aspect of the treatment is crucial as it promotes more than physical benefits, such as self-worth and self-confidence – both of which are absolutely necessary when treating eating disorders.
  • Group therapy sessions – These special form of therapy is overseen by a clinical therapist who specializes in eating disorder recovery and generally includes 10-20 patients. During these peer group therapy sessions, teens work on developing coping skills, psychotherapeutic skills, body awareness, and, of course, nutritional knowledge.  

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