There is one silver lining in the staggering statistics about the prevalence of Anorexia Nervosa today: there are now a multitude of resources available to help you or your loved one make a full recovery.
If you’re still in the research phases, check out the National Eating Disorders Association website at nationaleatingdisorders.org. Not only do they offer comprehensive information about Anorexia, Bulimia, and other eating disorders, but they also offer a referral service to help you find specialists in your area. In addition, you can find out about treatment centers offering in-patient care in a home-like facility.
I recommend calling and speaking to the doctors and therapists in your area to find out about the kind of help they provide. Sometimes they can put you in touch with previous patients they have worked with who can tell you about their experience.
If you think you might have an eating disorder, you don’t have to suffer alone. Tell a trusted friend or family member, and ask them to help you find the proper treatment. It can be daunting to do it yourself, and you don’t have to.
If you don’t have a friend or family member who you trust enough to reach out to, then contact the National Eating Disorders Association or another eating disorders organization for help. They can put you in touch with someone in your area who might be able to help.
Methods of Treatment
Whether you’re getting help from home, or staying at an inpatient facility, Anorexia is most commonly treated using a multidisciplinary team approach. A doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, and dietitian (along with, sometimes, a fitness trainer, group therapy, art therapy, massage, and more) all work together to ensure that the eating disorder is treated from every angle.
Anorexia isn’t just about maintaining a low weight. It’s often accompanied by depression and anxiety. Anorexia is also sometimes classified as an addiction, because of the fixation and obsession with food, and the dependency on ritualistic behaviors surrounding food and exercise. Proper treatment is necessary to ensure a complete recovery.
If You’re a Friend or Family Member
It’s painful to watch someone you love suffering from an eating disorder. The best thing you can do is offer support. Remind him or her that you love them, and that you’re there for them. Avoid commenting on their weight or appearance; instead, remind them of their strength and beauty regardless of what they look like. If they’re already seeking help and in treatment, ask general, non-invasive questions about what they’re learning. Some facilities have friends and family days when you can meet with the treatment team and find out more about your friend or family member’s progress.
If they haven’t started treatment yet, or are in denial about their condition, try to talk to them about it without pointing fingers or accusing. Again, remind them that you care, and want to see them healthy and happy.
If Cost is an Issue
Treatment for Anorexia can be costly. If your insurance does not cover eating disorder treatment, or if you don’t have insurance, find out if specialists in your area offer a sliding scale. Some schools have free counseling to students and staff, and many cities have free 12-step meetings for eating disorder recovery.
To recover from Anorexia, nothing can replace professional treatment with a team of specialists. It’s unfair that we sometimes have to weigh the cost of treatment with the cost of our health, but your health should always come out on top. Don’t avoid seeking help because of the cost.