A Parent's Guide to Understanding Anorexia Part 2/2b

What treatment options are available for Anorexia?

Anorexia is a serious illness which, if ignored, can be fatal. Fortunately there is a good chance for full recovery if the illness is diagnosed and treated early. The longer the detrimental behaviors are left untreated, the less likely full recovery without long-term consequences will be. Treatment for Anorexia involves a multi-faceted approach which involves psychotherapists, nutritionists, doctors, counselors, and other medical professionals. There are options for out-patient treatment, however treatment at a clinic which specializes in recovery from eating disorders is often the most successful option. Treatment usually involves cognitive behavioral therapy with a psychotherapist. This is to help replace negative body image and damaging attitudes and thought processes with positive, more realistic ideals. Along with this, dance therapy, animal therapy and other ''hands on'' types of approaches may be used. The patient will receive a medical evaluation to assess the extent of damage which has been done by the malnourishment. A nutritionist will be consulted to provide a well rounded nutritional plan and to teach proper eating habits. A healthier relationship with food will be taught. The patient may be asked to keep a food diary or journal detailing not only what is eaten and when, but her emotional state at the time. Family therapy is often incorporated in the treatment process to help loved ones understand the intricacies of eating disorders in general and Anorexia in particular. They will be told what they can do to help facilitate recovery. Finally, pharmacological intervention with antidepressants and/or anti-anxiety medications may be incorporated to help stabilize the emotional upheaval surrounding an eating disorder and recovery.

Group therapy and support groups are generally encouraged during treatment for Anorexia. It can be very helpful for the anorexic patient to realize that they are not alone in their struggles. It is also a good way to draw the patient out and discourage a lot of the secrecy that usually surrounds Anorexia. It is very important, when choosing a treatment facility, that you ask about the methodology used in their group therapy. Sitting with a group of patient''s who struggle with Anorexia and discussing methods of purging or ways that they hide their illness is counter-productive to healing.

Where can I find organizations with more information regarding Anorexia?

There are many organizations geared toward helping those with eating disorders. Some organizations specialize in information about specific eating disorders, however generally they are geared to help those suffering from all eating disorders. Caution should be used, when searching for help, to make sure that the organizations and web sites are providing up to date, accurate information. Some organizations you may utilize are:

? National Eating Disorders Association
? www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

? Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center
? www.edreferral.com

? Pale Reflections Eating Disorders Community Treatment Finder
? www.pale-reflections.com

? Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders
? www.something-fishy.org

What can I do if I feel my child is struggling with Anorexia?

The first thing to remember is that you cannot force your child to change her behavior. Trying to persuade, force, or ''guilt'' her into changing will not work! Generally individuals suffering from eating disorders already feel guilty for their behavior. Adding to that guilt is not beneficial. If your child is over 18, there is nothing you can do to make them stop their destructive behavior. Your best option is to be a good listener. Provide them with a list of resources should they choose to seek help. Remember that eating disorders are generally not about the food. The underlying emotional issues are what need to be addressed. Express love and concern for your child and a desire to help if you are able. Provide them with support if and when they decide to seek professional help.

If your child is under the age of 18, you have more options. This leaves you with a difficult choice. Denial and anger are common reactions when confronting a child about an eating disorder. Your child may beg, plead, promise to change, etc. to avoid being put in in-patient treatment. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is full recovery and that the sooner the eating disorder is addressed, the greater the chance of a full recovery. It is rare for an individual to be able to quit these self-destructive behaviors on her own. It is not uncommon for a child to promise to change and then just work harder to hide the habits while continuing the behaviors. Some people with Anorexia claim that they try to hide their illness, while secretly hoping that someone will care enough to notice and intervene. There are many options for recovery and help. Research these and decide which option is best for your situation. Remember that recovery is the goal and that with consistent love, caring and intervention that this is goal is very attainable.