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Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia explained
Signs and symptoms
Related issues
Help, it sounds like me!
Associated dangers
Treatment for anorexia
Recovery and getting help

Treatment for anorexia

It wasn’t so long ago that treatment for anorexia consisted of just a stay in hospital being fed (or force fed for the really lucky ones) until the individual had put on enough weight to satisfy the doctors. Then the patient was discharged and the doctors could congratulate themselves on another job well done… until the patient returned again, and again, and again. Where had they gone wrong?

Anorexia is NOT a purely physical illness, but it has only been until fairly recently that the psychological aspects have been understood. Fortunately, treatment now tends to be far kinder (and, therefore, far more effective) than it was in days gone by. Nowadays, hospitalization is a last resort rather than the first one and is only a possibility for anorectics whose weight is dangerously low. You should NOT assume that getting help automatically means you will end up in hospital.

Psychological treatment
Unless the sufferer’s weight is dangerously low, psychological treatment is by far the most important aspect of a person’s treatment. Therapy and psychiatric help are widely available and the patient will usually be referred to one by their doctor or a specialist. The ultimate aim of psychological treatment will be to explore any previously unresolved issues from within the patient’s life.

Hospitalization
Clearly, the decision to hospitalize someone is not taken lightly and will usually only be considered for someone whose weight is dangerously low. The patient’s treatment is administered by psychiatrists rather than nutrionists, the aim being to bring their weight to a safe level. Typically, this is achieved through a system of privileges, e.g. the patient is allowed to go out or watch TV in return for eating.† This method is somewhat controversial because the patient’s psychological needs may not be taken into account at this point. However, most good hospital programs should work with psychiatrists to ensure that the patient is also receiving mental healthcare.

Upon leaving hospital, it is important for the patient to continue to see a therapist. Just because his or her weight may now be at a safe level does not mean the anorexia is "cured". Indeed, an eating disorder is something which can stay lurking in the background for the rest of a sufferer’s life.

Specialist treatment centers
There are many good specialist treatment centers in the US, but they can be few and far between in other countries. A specialist center will offer a supportive environment in which the patient has contact with other sufferers and benefits from one-to-one counseling and therapy. Some centers may be for women only, so don’t be discouraged if you are male and have an eating disorder. There are plenty of facilities which accomodate both males and females.

Specialist centers in the United States

Milestones in Recovery
Milestones offers a 12-step, inpatient treatment program in a lovely residential setting in Florida.
Tel: 1-800-347-2364 / Web site: http://www.milestonesinrecovery.com

Specialist centers in the United Kingdom

The Priory Hospital
London-based center which offers in and out-patient facilities for sufferers of anorexia and bulimia.
Tel: 020 8876 8261 / Web site: http://www.priory-hospital.co.uk

The International Eating Disorders Centre
Offers a nine-bedded home for males and females suffering from anorexia, bulimia, overeating and other eating disorders
Tel: 01296 330557 / Web site: http://www.eatingdisorderscentre.co.uk

You can find a list of therapists and more specialist centers on our treatment finder page.

Treatment in a specialist center in the United States can be expensive, even with medical insurance. Not all insurance companies will take on somebody with a history of eating disorders or you may find you are not covered for certain types of healthcare. Tell me more about treatment under insurance.

Go on to recovery and getting help

Source: †Hodgkinson, Liz – "Eating Disorders: Your Questions Answered", © Ward Lock 1995.

 

 

 
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