Have you ever looked in a mirror and didn’t like what you saw? Perhaps you’re getting older and time has changed your skin or the sparkle in your eyes. Like many Americans, you might think you could stand to lose a pound or two because your favorite pair of jeans from college just won’t fit. But, what if the image reflected back at you was completely distorted? What if you see an image that repulses you? What if you would do anything, including putting your life at risk, to change the image in the mirror? This is what suffering from anorexia is like. No matter how thin, emaciated or ill they become, individuals who suffer from anorexia will continue to exercise, diet and place their lives at risk in their desire to be “thin enough.”
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Anorexia Nervosa Is a Life-Threatening Condition
While we might think of anorexia as a simple condition that only requires a healthy diet to treat, it is much more detrimental to the body and the psyche than simply “being too thin.” According to the New York Times health guide on anorexia nervosa, death has been reported in as many as 10 percent of the cases in the US. When someone suffers from this eating disorder, their entire body is affected. According to the Office on Women’s Health – a department of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – anorexia can cause a myriad of health problems and can even lead to death. Just a few of these effects include:
- Heart conditions, such as low blood pressure, palpitations and heart failure
- Kidney failure and kidney stones
- Changes in brain chemistry that can lead to irritability, fainting and memory issues
- Low potassium, magnesium and other body fluids and minerals
In addition to these severe issues, anorexia also causes the skin and bones to become dry and brittle, resulting in frequent bruising, fractures, swollen joints and osteoporosis. Often, a fine layer of hair will develop on the skin as well. Anorexia affects the whole person, not just his or her weight, and the whole person should be treated for the disorder with a comprehensive treatment plan that includes various facets.
Co-Occurring Disorders Are Significant in the Treatment of Anorexia
Many times, someone who suffers from an eating disorder like anorexia will suffer from another mental condition at the same time. This is known as a co-occurring disorder, or a dual diagnosis. In a document released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, this government agency expresses its concern over the verifiable link between eating disorders and substance abuse issues, including addiction. For instance, they state that, according to researchers in the area of co-occurring disorders, women who suffer from an eating disorder are four times as likely to suffer from addiction or a related substance use issue and vice versa. This is compared to the likelihood that women who suffer from neither condition would develop either one. Additionally, researchers have found that 14 percent of women with substance use issues also suffered from anorexia or bulimia.
Substance abuse isn’t the only co-occurring disorder to look for, however. Other conditions that may play a significant role in anorexia and other eating disorders include:
- Major depressive disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Bipolar II disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Intermittent explosive disorder, ADHD, oppositional-defiant disorder, conduct disorder
When treating a mental disorder of any degree, it is important to address all of the co-occurring disorders at the same time in order to find the root of the problem and increase the chances of avoiding relapses in the future.
What to Expect During Treatment
Here at Futures, we offer a treatment program for individuals who suffer from both an eating disorder and addiction. We help each unique individual to develop a plan for their lives that will help them sustain the gains they’ve made during the treatment process. The first step to recovering from an eating disorder as severe as anorexia is to stabilize the physical well-being of the patient. Sometimes, reaching a healthy goal weight requires an inpatient stay at a residential care facility, or a hospital. Once the immediate danger has passed, the individual can begin the psychological treatment in a variety of forms and approaches. While staying with us, the individual receiving care will have access to Ph.D.-level psychologists, hypnotherapists and life coaches, as well as a fully trained and experienced nursing staff. Using a combination of evidence-based therapies and complementary therapies, you can expect to receive around-the-clock treatment and intensive therapy to help you or your loved one heal and experience a renewed wellness.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anorexia Treatment+
Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Co-Occurring Borderline Personality Disorder and Anorexia+
Hypnosis Used as a Tool in Therapy Treatment Plans+
Nutritional Counseling Is Paramount to Successful Treatment of Anorexia
Anorexia, of all of the eating disorders, is the most obvious for some individuals. While being overweight, or even obese, does not indicate diagnosable compulsive overeating and those who suffer from bulimia can often maintain a normal, otherwise healthy weight, anorexia can result in severe emaciation.
Regaining a healthy weight and proper nutrition is one of the first steps to recovery for those who have developed anorexia.
According to the New York Times health guide, attaining weight is crucial to the benefits of the psychotherapy methods that will shortly follow. Not only will it place the individual in a better position from a psychological standpoint, proper nutrition raises energy levels, restores normal hormone function and can reduce bone loss and other health effects of the condition. Some anxiety or depression may accompany the weight gain, but these effects decrease with time and proper treatment.
It Is Possible to Recover From Anorexia and Live a Healthy, Active Life After Treatment?
In a statement to the American Journal of Psychiatry, several researches and doctors have stated that the prognosis for recovery from anorexia is good. Their interpretation of research studies indicates that 75 to 90 percent of those individuals who suffer from anorexia can make a full recovery. In fact, they see this disorder as non-chronic based on current recovery rates. Each person is different. Treatment success and recovery depend upon many factors, including co-occurring disorders, such as addiction, and the treatment approaches used for dual diagnosis management. Here at Futures, we have set up a specific program for those who suffer from both an eating disorder and an addiction to drugs or alcohol. If you are suffering from anorexia and addiction, please do not hesitate to call us and learn exactly how we can help you.