It is no secret Americans place a great deal of importance on their physical appearance and achieving a particular body type. In fact, in 2018, the weight loss industry in the United States was worth approximately $70 billion. With so much emphasis on one’s outward appearance, it makes sense so many individuals have issues relating to their body weight, body shape, negative body image, and mental health. In a society that prizes thinness above almost anything else, developing disordered eating habits is something that can threaten the lives and wellbeing of Americans at any age. Eating disorders usually, but not always, being during adolescence – a tricky time for psychiatric care. Read on to learn more about balancing the two.

Who Is Affected by Eating Disorders?

While eating disorders can affect people of all ages, sexes, genders, and cultural backgrounds, they are more prevalent in young women and girls. That’s not to say boys and men can’t be affected by eating disorders as well. In fact, binge eating disorder affects men and women almost equally. Simply put, it’s impossible to “judge a book by its cover” when it comes to eating disorders – they can affect anyone, and no single body type is exclusive.

Understanding a Dual Diagnosis

Co-occurring mental health disorders are very common in people with eating disorders –this is usually referred to as a dual diagnosis. Unfortunately, it is common for those with co-occurring mental health conditions to only be treated for one issue, hearing the effectiveness of the overall treatment program. For example, teens may enter into treatment that focuses more on the medical aspects of their condition and less on psychiatric care, leaving other co-occurring conditions such as depression untreated. Since these psychiatric and emotional disorders influence and trigger disordered eating behaviors, failure to address them can lead to relapses and continuation of the eating disorder.

What Is Eating Disorder Treatment Like?

As part of the treatment process, incoming clients normally have a psychiatric consultation to assess their concurrent treatment needs, such as medication for OCD or depression. They may also meet with a nutritionist throughout treatment to assess their nutritional intake and suggest positive changes to their diet. The entire treatment team will work together to identify critical issues that require attention and develop a treatment plan.

Once a treatment plan has been decided upon, work can begin to help teens replace their disordered eating behaviors, manage stressors, and increase mindfulness. During inpatient psychiatric treatment, it is common for young people and their therapists to restructure their attitudes about food and eating through cognitive retraining methodologies. Teens may be asked to keep a food diary to become more aware of the types of situations that may lead to disordered behaviors and thoughts.

Merely making changes to one’s thoughts and behaviors is not typically enough for adolescents to enjoy long-term recovery. This issue is one of the biggest reasons why teens and their psychiatrists need to work together to address the underlying psychological issues related to their eating disorders. For those diagnosed with bulimia nervosa, medication may be prescribed in combination with regular psychotherapy.

Does Residential Eating Disorder Treatment Work?

Mental health treatment carries no guarantees, but in comparison to leaving an eating disorder untreated, outcomes are vastly better with residential treatment.Research shows most eating disorder cases can be treated appropriately by a skilled team of medical health and mental health care professionals. It’s not a simple “cure;” for many individuals with eating disorders, long-term treatment may be necessary. And although psychiatrists, therapists, nutritionists, and dieticians can help, family support is also vital.

It is essential to remember the sooner they begin treatment, the better. When left untreated, eating disorders and similar conditions become entrenched and more difficult to overcome. Additionally, the longer one deals with disordered eating behaviors, the higher the amount of strain they put on their body and mind. Eating disorders bring with them serious health consequences, which vary depending on the disorder. However, the opportunity to enjoy long-term recovery is available for those who seek help from a trusted psychiatric treatment center.