The Importance of Keeping Yourself Informed
Many people with eating disorders wonder if professional treatment is absolutely necessary for them to get well. Eating disorders are mysterious to the average person, and individuals often lack full understanding of this complex and dangerous problem.
When a person lacks information and guidance about a stressful problem, they can be prone to minimizing it or denying its seriousness. This can unfortunately lead to disastrous consequences. I have spoken to many people with eating disorders over the years who have insisted that:
“I’ve gone through stages where I’ve been better with my symptoms. If I just wait it out, I know this bad period will pass and things will get better.”
“I know I’m going to have to live with my eating disorder the rest of my life. The best I can hope for is that I can keep the symptoms under control the best I can.”
“I’m not going to pay a lot of money for treatment when all I need to do is eat or have enough will power to stop bingeing and purging”
“I already have a therapist and the doctor on board. A dietitian seems like overkill. I’ll add the nutrition part later if I need to.”
The Challenges in Approaching an Eating Disorder and Getting to Full Recovery
Eating disorders are illnesses cloaked in secrecy and denial. Do not make the mistake of believing that you can recover without professional support and guidance, or that if you just try hard enough, you’ll be able to make the choice to stop. Even with the understanding you gain from reading self-help books like this one, you are still affected by your personal history of distorted thinking and behavior about food and body image, plus being bombarded every day by society’s pressures to be thin and perfect. It is also likely that you have extremely painful underlying issues that you may have never faced and learned how to cope with in a positive way.
"Eating disorders are not a conscious choice. An eating disorder is a very powerful, subconscious coping mechanism that you use to handle extreme pain and stress."
Most people I treat for these problems are models of responsibility and self-control. They are highly perfectionistic and people-pleasers. If they could control the eating disorder symptoms, believe me, they would, because they like to control everything else. Eating disorders are not like other mental health issues people face, such as depression or anxiety, which can often be remedied by once-a-week visits to a qualified and empathic therapist. Complete treatment for eating disorders requires the work of a team of professionals who can treat the whole person.
Having a Support Team is Essential
If you secure a quality outpatient treatment team quickly, inpatient treatment is in most cases unnecessary. The emphasis, note, is on “team.” If you go to only one provider without putting together a team, you are setting yourself up for failure in your recovery.
Strong words, yes, but they’re true. Studies show that people with eating disorders have a better prognosis and recover faster when they are working with a treatment team similar to what they would have in a hospital setting.
A diagnosis of an eating disorder is not an automatic life sentence of misery for you. By taking the right steps from the start, you are very likely to recover quickly and permanently (in months, rather than years). However, if you do not get help, and the right kind, you could be sentencing yourself to months, or even years, of struggling with an eating disorder. In fact, the faster you secure quality treatment, the more likely you are to recover fully and live a happy and healthy life without being obsessed with food and weight.
"Currently, up to 20% of individuals suffering from an eating disorder will do so for the rest of their lives."
This staggering statistic would be greatly reduced if the person received the right form of treatment from the start.
A Look at Outpatient Care
In addition to the comparative cost advantage, there are further benefits of quality outpatient care:
- You will usually still be able to attend school or work, whereas hospitalization can cause you to take FMLA or drop classes, which creates more stress in your life and potentially trigger a relapse;
- You do not have to pay for accommodations and travel to the inpatient hospital, which is unlikely to be located in your town;
- You will be creating a team that will always be available in town if you relapse, so you can get back on track quickly;
- Remember that an inpatient stay is an emergency measure that is most often used to stabilize a person in grave physical danger. You still have to learn how to manage the stresses of your life when you leave the hospital. This is why the most dangerous time for eating disorder patients is immediately after they leave the hospital and return to their regular lives.
- If there are no supports in place when they return, they are likely to fall back;
- One of the most important therapeutic advantages of using an outpatient treatment team rather than going to a hospital is that you will learn how to manage the stresses that triggered the eating disorder in real life. You will then be able to practice the techniques in your own home, while you are still in school or work and engaging in your social life.
Who Should Be on Your Team?
Ideally, the members of your outpatient treatment team should closely mirror those you would have in an inpatient setting. At the bare minimum, the team should consist of your doctor, a qualified therapist, and a qualified dietitian. Depending on the resources available in your geographic area and your specific needs, your team may also include a qualified psychiatrist, a family therapist, and a group therapist. The role of each person on the treatment team, and how often meetings should be with each professional, are outlined in more detail in my book Five Simple Steps to be Eating disorder FREE, which you can purchase on my amazon page.
In this detailed guide, I show you how to create a top notch support system. This treatment team will be the best use of your financial resources and will help you quickly and permanently recover from your eating disorder.
You Can Be Successful
Remember the statistic I shared earlier that 20% of people with eating disorders will never seek help or die from complications of eating disorders? It is my goal to help you avoid becoming one of the 20%. If I didn't help people recover successfully from the emotional and physical devastation of eating disorders every day, I wouldn't be doing the work I do.
"You CAN recover from an eating disorder quickly and permanently."
By taking action as soon as possible and following this five step quick start guide, you will be taking one enormous step towards placing yourself in the 80% who leave an eating disorder behind them forever. If you would like to speak with me personally about how to successfully set up your outpatient treatment team, just fill out a confidential appointment request form here and I’ll be in touch by phone or email within 24 hours. You don’t have to suffer with an eating disorder any longer. Have the courage to reach out for the right kind of help and you, too, can be eating disorder FREE!