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Eating Disorder Treatment

Eating Disorder Treatment in Florida

An eating disorder is defined as a serious preoccupation with eating, exercise, and body shape, which takes the form of an unhealthy obsession in a person’s life.

While anorexia nervosa is the most well known in TV and media, there are many different types of eating disorders including bulimia nervosabinge eating disorder, and avoidant/restrictive intake disorder.

If you feel that you may be struggling with an eating disorder, some of the signs you may experience include:

  • Frequent dieting
  • Constantly worrying about the nutrition content of food
  • Restricting certain foods or food groups
  • Feeling uncomfortable eating around other people
  • Skipping meals
  • Feeling that you need to burn off calories with exercise
  • Unexplained gastrointestinal issues
  • Using the bathroom right after a meal
  • Hiding food
  • Food rituals
  • And more

Many people feel that they do not “fit” into the categories of a specific eating disorder, but may struggle with orthorexia, which may present as being obsessed with only eating “clean” foods, constantly dieting, and being afraid to eat certain foods.

While orthorexia is not an official diagnosis, it can still cause the same emotional distress as any other eating disorder.

Overall, an eating disorder functions as a coping mechanism to deal with other aspects of life, mainly by controlling food.

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Many people struggling with an eating disorder also experience body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), in which you can’t stop thinking about perceived flaws in your appearance.

Some of the signs of BDD include avoiding social situations, anxiety about others’ perception of you, attempting to hide flaws with makeup or clothes, constantly comparing your appearance to others, frequent grooming, skin picking etc.

Studies show that many people with an eating disorder may also struggle with BDD and use food and exercise as a way to manipulate their body size.

Eating disorders are thought to affect 9% of women and 2% of men. This illness does not discriminate, and equally affects people of all weight, size, gender identity, sexuality and ethnicity.

While many people assume that only younger women struggle with an eating disorder, we know that anyone can be affected, and body size is almost never an indicator of someone’s emotional or mental wellbeing.

Unfortunately, these stigmas only cause more difficulty when seeking treatment for an eating disorder. As a result, many people tend to suffer in silence.

However, it is imperative to ask for help if you find that you are worried about your relationship with food, body image, or exercise.

Asking for help can help reduce your risk of complications down the road related to the eating disorder. Anorexia, for example, has the highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders.

There is also a very strong link between addiction and eating disorders, and research shows that almost 50% of people struggling with an eating disorder are also abusing drugs or alcohol.

There are many risk factors that may contribute to a person developing an eating disorder, some of which include a history of anxiety or depressionfamily dynamics, societal pressures, and trauma.

The field of eating disorder research has also identified several genetic factors that may contribute, and many studies show the interesting role that biology plays in this disease.

While we may never know the exact cause of an eating disorder, the treatment remains the same. Support by way of trained mental health professionalsdietitians, and medical staff is the best way to begin your journey of healing.

Treatment depends on the type and severity of the eating disorder but includes a combination of therapy, nutrition education, and medical monitoring. Many people suffer in silence due to the overwhelming fear of asking for help, but recovery from an eating disorder is possible.

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Eating disorder treatment is something that every quality drug and alcohol treatment facility should provide due to the frequency eating disorders occur with addiction. An additional dual diagnosis, eating disorders and substance abuse can be so intertwined that they will often feed off of each other and exacerbate the other’s symptoms.

The most important thing to remember when treating all dual diagnosis is that the co-occurring illnesses must be treated simultaneously in order for treatment to be effective. Treating one of the illnesses and not the other will often turn out to be fruitless, or at the most a temporary fix.

How Eating Disorder Treatment Works

Women are much more susceptible to developing an eating disorder than men. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that up to 24 million people in the United States currently do or will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. These figures are incredibly troubling when you consider that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and really do highlight the need for effective eating disorder treatment.

There is not one specific cause of eating disorders. Women will develop Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder for a variety of reasons like psychological issues (control, coping skills, trauma) and societal issues (living in a culture that promotes and celebrates thinness.) That said, eating disorders are not something that any women is born with.

These are learned behaviors that can be unlearned when a woman is ready and motivated to make some serious changes in her life, and most importantly, ask for help.

Eating disorder treatment focuses on changing the relationship the sufferer has with food as well as her body. It must address the emotional triggers and root causes that lead to developing the disorder in the first place. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been especially successful at treating eating disorders.

One primary goal of this eating disorder treatment therapy is to help the sufferer understand that they are using food to deal with emotions, and how to recognize when those negative patterns are happening. After the identification is made, the counselor and client go over coping strategies to combat them. Quality eating disorder treatment must also emphasize the importance of nutrition and healthy eating habits.

When Eating Disorders and Addiction Collide

Eating disorders and substance abuse can be linked for a few different reasons. The most obvious connection is when individuals with eating disorders look to drugs like caffeine, tobacco, cocaine, and heroin to help control their weight and food cravings.

Another connection occurs when people abuse drugs to self-medicate in an attempt to feel better when they are feeling especially low and depressed about their weight, bodies, and overall self-worth. Illicit drugs are highly addictive and both of these scenarios can result in physical and psychological dependence very quickly.

Destination Hope: The Women’s Program is a full service addiction and dual diagnosis treatment facility for women in South Florida. The counselors at Destination Hope understand the social and psychological pressures women feel in today’s society to be thin and how quickly that can develop into an eating disorder and ultimately can lead to substance abuse.

Destination Hope has a nutritionist on staff to help educate and encourage our women about the benefits of living a healthy and more fulfilling life in conjunction with our highly trained therapists helping them work through the sources of their emotional issues.

If there’s a woman in your life whose quest to be thin has become dangerous, please put her in contact with the admissions counselors at Destination Hope as soon as possible. Counselors are available to talk 24 hours a day. Don’t let her become another statistic. We can help.