What is an eating disorder treatment program? Simply put, it’s a comprehensive plan to treat an eating disorder. However, it must also be highly customized — because not every patient is the same, and not every eating disorder is the same.
Eating disorder treatment depends on a patient’s particular disorder and the symptoms they struggle with. It usually includes medical monitoring, nutrition education, psychotherapy, and sometimes even medications. This treatment program typically also involves addressing other health problems caused by an eating disorder, which can be serious or even life-threatening.
An organized approach to eating disorder treatment can help manage symptoms, return a patient to a healthy weight, and maintain their overall health. Searching for an eating disorder clinic in San Diego, CA? Reach out to True Life Center’s team online. You can also call 866.420.1792.
What Is an Eating Disorder?
An eating disorder is a behavioral condition characterized by persistent and severe disturbances in eating behaviors and associated emotions and thoughts that are distressing for the patient. What’s more important to consider, though, is several types of eating disorders.
Eating disorders can be very serious conditions that affect a patient’s health and psychological, physical, and social functions. Types of eating disorders include the following:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder
- Binge eating disorder
- Bulimia nervosa
- Rumination disorder
- Specified feeding and eating disorders
The three main eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are more common in women, but they can all occur at any age and affect any gender.
Disorders like this are often associated with preoccupations with food, weight, shape, or anxiety about eating or the consequences of eating certain foods. Behaviors associated with eating disorders include restrictive eating or avoiding certain foods, binge eating, purging by vomiting, laxative misuse, and compulsive exercise. Behaviors like these can become driven in similar ways to an addiction. Eating disorders can also often co-occur with other psychiatric disorders — most commonly mood and anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, or alcohol and drug addictions.
What Are the Typical Components of Treatment for Eating Disorders?
The severity of the eating disorder and any co-occurring disorders will determine the initial treatment level of a patient, though it’s quite typical, to begin with, the outpatient level. Typical components of eating disorder treatment programs — whether inpatient or outpatient — include the following:
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): This is used to help patients concentrate on ways to become aware of and accept their experiences and emotions. ACT is beneficial in eating disorder recovery as it helps patients develop a healthier relationship with their emotions and intellect.
- Art therapy: This form of psychotherapy uses art media as its main form of communication and healing. Types of art therapy that might be included in eating disorder treatment programs are painting, clay making, sculpting, and drawing.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on negative patterns of thinking and beliefs that contribute to them. CBT teaches patients skills that allow them to identify problematic beliefs and behaviors and healthy ways to cope with emotions.
- Dance movement therapy: This is a therapeutic form of healing that allows participants to become involved in an alternate way of coping and expressing emotion. Dance therapy also helps patients to achieve a healthy approach to self-expression.
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): This is a form of psychotherapy that connects cognitive and behavioral methods to cope with painful emotions. DBT is typically helpful for patients who react to emotional circumstances with extreme behaviors.
- Equine therapy: This is a form of psychotherapy that uses horses as a tool. It is based on the premise that a bond can grow between humans and animals, allowing emotional healing.
- Exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy: This helps patients overcome fears and anxiety by gradually exposing them to the feared object or circumstance to desensitize fears.
- Family therapy is an important part of treatment that involves and works with families and couples. Family therapy should be considered when a malfunction is observed within a family, contributing to problems that concern the overall ability of the family to function.
- Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT): This form of therapy focuses on managing interpersonal problem areas — like unresolved grief, role disputes, and role transitions. Patients who participate in this form of psychotherapy address underlying personal issues and learn how to better cope with anxiety under the guidance of a therapist.
- Medical nutrition therapy (MNT): This is a holistic method for treating various medical conditions and their associated symptoms. Therapy like this is achieved by using customized meal plans that a registered dietitian usually formulates.
- The Maudsley Method: This family-based treatment focuses on incorporating the role of parents in their child’s recovery process from eating disorders. This includes guiding parents in helping their child eat balanced, healthy meals and preventing eating disorder behaviors — such as purging or over-exercising.
When Should a Patient Consider Eating Disorder Treatment?
If any psychiatric disorder affects your daily routines and habits, it’s time to get help.
When considering treatment for eating disorders, it’s important to note that a patient can undergo programs offered in faraway places from their home. The main priority is to get the best possible treatment — not to get the best possible treatment in the area.
Whether a patient starts treatment by seeing their primary care practitioner or some mental health professional, they’ll likely benefit from a referral to an eating disorder clinic.
Ready To Learn More About True Life Center’s Eating Disorder Treatment Program?
If you’re looking for an eating disorder clinic in San Diego, CA, reach out to True Life Center’s team online or call 866.420.1792.