National Eating Disorder Awareness Week: How You Can Get Help

Although you may have heard that there is no simple cure for an eating disorder, there are various different resources that can lead people through treatment and recovery, and early diagnosis and treatment significantly increase the chances of recovery. Through a combination of therapy, nutritional education and medical treatment, the symptoms of an eating disorder can be managed or eliminated.

Treatment and therapy for eating disorders depends on the type of disorder and these will be specifically tailored to the individual. Generally, the goals of treatment are to restore the individual to a healthy body weight, treat any psychological problems relating to the disorder, and reduce behaviors or thoughts that contribute to the disorder. Treatment will address all aspects of the disorder - the psychological and mental components. Often times, continued, extended therapy is needed to prevent relapse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treatment is often a component of eating disorder treatment. This form of therapy is structured and may take between 10 to 20 sessions, done either individually or in a group. The focus is to change the unhealthy thought patterns that result in eating disorders. CBT, for short, is considered the treatment of choice for people with eating disorders.

Nutritional Counseling is another resource used to help those with eating disorders. Often times, an eating disorder distorts the individual's perceptions of a healthy diet, and nutritional counselors can give patients an eating plan that will help them maintain a healthy weight and instill normal eating habits. Underweight or overweight patients will likely benefit from a medically supervised diet to return them to a healthy weight.

Medically Assisted Treatment is necessary for the individuals that are extremely underweight at the start of treatment. Symptoms of an eating disorder may quickly become life-threatening, and the first and most important step in treatment is to get the person to a healthy weight and to treat any serious medical problems.

Residential Inpatient Eating Disorder Treatment is a great option for those who have tried outpatient therapy unsuccessfully. Residential treatment offers a structured environment for patients to focus on learning healthy habits without any outside influences from the world. Often times this treatment option may be required when the eating disorder has caused physical issues.

Please keep in mind there are various other treatment options such as psychotherapy, rehab, over-the-counter medications, etc.

There are various other resources and tools available online, such as the Eating Disorder Screening Tool - which helps determine, based on how you answer questions, if you should seek medical help - and the NEDA Helpline - which is ran by professionals in this area of mental health and wellness.

Unfortunately, only one in ten people with an eating disorder receives treatment, according to PsychGuides. With the abundance of treatment options and resources online and in-person, this number is dramatically lower than it should be.

If you or someone you know is experiencing warning signs or symptoms of an eating disorder, please consult a medical specialist or call 1-888-997-3147 to explore available treatment options.

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