Anorexia nervosa, as most know, is a behavioural health disease in which people (often but not always young women) perceive themselves as overweight, even when they have lost weight to the point of becoming emaciated. People with anorexia might fast for days at a time or force themselves to eat only small portions of low-calorie foods and water. They often exercise obsessively due to their overwhelming fear of putting on weight.
Because of persistent body dysmorphia (distorted self-image), a person with anorexia nervosa simply cannot see what others see – that they are becoming dangerously underweight. As you may know, consistent restricting of nutritional intake can cause the body to break down in a variety of ways. The mental health aspects of this can be dangerous as well; anorexia nervosa patients run a much higher risk of suicide.
When searching for an answer to “eating disorder therapists near Philadelphia“, be aware that anorexia treatment options offered at a quality center can help adults of all genders, races, and ages understand why their eating disorder began and how to address disordered thoughts and behaviours constructively. That’s the first step to creating a fully recovered life.
Effective Types of Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa
A popular and effective type of peer-centered therapy for anorexia nervosa, family-based therapy works well because the participants can share their feelings and emotions with people who have had a shared experience in a safe space. Involving parents, spouses, and other family members in treatment can help them understand the potentially dysfunctional roles they assume in the family that may contribute to eating disorder behaviours. It’s not unusual for the family members to engage in a few sessions on their own, without the patient. This provides an opportunity for the family to adjust their attitudes and behaviours to avoid enabling anorexia nervosa in their loved one.
A particular type of family-based therapy, useful in teens and young adults, is called the Maudsley Method. This method teaches parents how to assume responsibility for their child’s eating patterns with an eye towards a sustainable diet and eating schedule. Four controlled trials have been conducted so far to investigate the effectiveness of the Maudsley Method. In two of these trials (Le Grange, 1992 and Eisler, 2000), researchers found 70 percent of teens with anorexia returned to their normal weight following completion of a recovery program. In addition, outcomes for younger children with anorexia (between nine and 12 years old) who participate in family-based therapy are similar to success rates enjoyed by teens and their parents.
Anorexia nervosa treatment should always include a few options for individual therapy as well. One-on-one therapy sessions between teens with anorexia and their therapists provide a safe, secure environment. During these sessions, therapists can help to identify the root causes of anorexia nervosa and begin evidence-based methods of correcting them. Individual therapy is also necessary to teach patients how to restructure negative thought patterns and recognize distorted beliefs about their appearance.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
One of the most time-tested and effective methods of eating disorder treatment, CBT is highly effective at highlighting which thoughts are disordered, and recognizing how they are negatively affecting the patient. CBT offers cognitive tools to help patients understand why they think certain thoughts, immediately recognizing negative self-talk and quickly modifying these thoughts to prevent returning to unsatisfactory eating habits.
People with anorexia are almost always resistant – initially – to admitting there is a problem and changing their eating habits. Cognitive-behavioral therapy gets patients “on board” by having them participate in clear-eyed assessments of their thought patterns with the help of the therapist, who works from a predetermined inquiry list. CBT therapists also include techniques that give patients a new sense of hope about treatment by gently but firmly encouraging patients to take ownership of their recovery program.
Medications for Anorexia Nervosa
Although some anorexia treatment options involve antidepressants, medication is not usually a major part of treatment. Many eating disorders happen concurrently with other mental health disorders, however, so antidepressants may be useful in the co-occurring treatment of depression.
If you have been wondering if there are quality eating disorder therapists in Philadelphia, seek out a facility that offers these options at minimum. You can help stop anorexia early in yourself or a loved one.