Eating disorders are some of the most underrated mental health issues. Unbeknownst to everyone, these conditions affect various age groups, from children to teens to adults. These can lead to different illnesses and compromise overall health and wellness.
There are still many queries about eating disorders and the treatment they need. For example, ‘what does cognitive behavioral therapy involve.’ Fortunately, the modernization of society and developments in the medical field have paved the way for different eating disorder treatments. They can now be easily accessed through credible websites or medical doctors’ advice.
What are Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders refer to several mental illnesses distinguished by unusual and irregular eating patterns. Eating, exercise, weight, or body form become unhealthy obsessions or ignorance to patients.
People usually think that an eating disorder means that an individual is barely eating and is losing too much weight. However, they may also be eating too much or have bizarre attitudes towards food. Here are the six most common types:
- Anorexia Nervosa
Despite being extremely underweight, anorexics frequently perceive themselves as overweight. They often track their weight, avoid particular meals, and drastically limit their calorie consumption.
- Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimic people commonly consume unusually large amounts of food in a short length of time. It usually leads to vomiting, nausea, and an upset stomach.
- Binge Eating Disorder
People commonly binge eat when they’re tired, stressed, or frustrated. The thought of eating makes them happy and relieved.
However, when the brain is continuously programmed to binge eat in unpleasant situations, this becomes a mental disorder that may badly affect overall health.
- Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
People with this disorder are either not interested in eating or dislike particular tastes, scents, colors, textures, or temperatures. They are very meticulous in every dish and always find something to criticize about.
- Rumination Disorder
A person regurgitates or vomits food they’ve already swallowed and digested. The food is then chewed again before being either re-swallowed or spit out. It may result from anatomical damage, chemical or hormonal imbalances in the brain, or highly traumatic experiences.
Non-food items, like mud, ice, chalk, soil, paper, soap, fabric, hair, pebbles, wool, detergent, laundry, or cornstarch, are craved by people with Pica. It’s crucial for early detection due to the risk of lead poisoning, throat, stomach, intestinal blockage, and parasitic worms.
Immediate diagnosis and intervention are needed to prevent malnutrition and worsening of the condition, which may lead to the development of systemic diseases. Here are the following are the five treatment options for eating disorders:
- Having a Proper Medical Consultation
The first step must focus on the patient’s health, such as getting the proper nutrition and attaining the target weight. Strict supervision is implemented to ensure that he’s eating an adequate amount to keep him healthy.
Eating disorders may co-exist with other mental issues like schizophrenia or systemic diseases. Depending on the disorder and severity, some are admitted to the hospital or residential homes to monitor the patient’s condition closely.
- Getting a Psychological Therapy
Psychological therapy (or talk therapy) is considered one of the essential components in the treatment regimen for eating disorders.
It includes a regular consultation with a psychiatrist or psychologist to assess the patient’s overall mental health. Therapies may last from months to years.
The general goals of psychological therapy are:
- Improving relationship with food
- Practicing good eating habits in your daily routine, even without supervision
- Understanding the importance of good nutrition to your mental and physical health
- Learning how to handle and manage anxiety and stress
- Attaining target weight and body mass index (BMI)
Here are the commonly used psychological therapies:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is broadly known to treat different mental issues such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, marriage problems, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders.
This treatment can help you reflect on your behavior, past traumatic experiences, feelings, and thoughts resulting in your eating disorder.
The therapist will eagerly listen to you and teach you to face your fears and acquire the appropriate skills you need in difficult circumstances.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) guides you in building a new habit and a purposeful outlook. The therapy focuses on changing one’s actions rather than emotions and feelings.
It emphasizes that what you feel and experience is normal and will only pass. The most important thing is to change your eating habits, so you’ll get better in no time.
Family-based therapy, as its name suggests, is a therapy that includes the mental and physical presence of family members to team up and help you overcome your condition.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is about improving and strengthening your relationships with other people. It is usually given to individuals with social anxiety and panic attacks.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a combination of CBT and IPT. It works by improving your understanding of your feelings and emotions and developing your coping skills and stress management to treat your eating disorder effectively.
- Looking For A Registered Nutritionist And Dietician
A registered nutritionist and dietician have proper knowledge of the adequate amount and type of food one must have.
People with eating disorders are usually ‘picky’ with their food or, at times, throw it away. These professionals also know the food alternatives one can consume to get the same amount of nutrients the body needs.
- Group Therapies
Group therapy is also considered psychotherapy. But rather than a psychotherapist, you engage with people who have survived or are currently undergoing treatment for eating disorders.
Many patients are hesitant about their condition; however, when they hear stories from others who have gone through the same situation that they’re in, they tend to open up and take their advice as well.
Taking All Into Consideration
Eating disorders are dangerous and require immediate medical attention. Late detection or misdiagnosis may lead to severe cases of malnutrition and other systemic diseases.
Don’t hesitate to ask your primary physician about the improper eating habits you have. Many treatment options are available to help you overcome and improve your overall health and wellness.