Anorexia consequences can be quite unsettling. From physical emergencies like malnutrition, kidney failure and irregular heartbeat to mental traumas like depression and suicidal tendencies, untreated anorexia could cost victims their life.
Anorexia treatment is challenging. Because patients, most of the time, vehemently deny having a problem, convincing anorexia victims that they need treatment is the biggest roadblock. They simply don’t want to part with anorexia- it feels like loss of a support system to them.
Once that hurdle is crossed, anorexia intervention involves a multi-dimensional treatment approach. Because the problem is overtly behavioral but covertly psychological, treatment should ideally involve a team of medical doctors, psychologists, counselors, dieticians and family members.
- Restoring the body to a normal weight
- A return to normal eating habits
- Treating emotional issues like depression, insecurity, low self-esteem, distorted thinking etc.
- Changing the way one thinks about oneself and food
Anorexia treatment methods
Depending upon the extent of the problem, treatment may involve a combination of the following:
This depends upon anorexia effects on the body. If the effects are disastrous such that the victim suffers from critical weight loss, kidney failure, heart problems, serious malnourishment or severe depression etc., he/she may need to be hospitalized.
Medication may involve antidepressants to contain the anxiety and depression that victims of eating disorders face. Sometimes medicines may be given to help correct distorted thinking towards eating and body image. Some medicines also help induce sleep and improve appetite.
This involves trained dieticians and nutritionists, who apprise the victim of healthy eating habits, nutrition and the importance of a balanced diet. Often, the dietician will chart out a recovery meal plan to restore the patient to normal eating, required to maintain a healthy weight.
Counseling is required to identify the negative thought patterns or emotions that trigger anorexia and replace them with more healthy and constructive thinking. It is also required to teach the victim how to deal with his emotions and problems in a productive, rather than a self-destructive way.
Psychotherapy may be used to correct behavioral and thought pattern distortions. It involves two types of therapy- Cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. Cognitive therapy is to do with modifying thought structures and behavioral therapy is concerned with correcting the distorted eating behavior. It helps to develop more positive attitudes towards food and weight, as well as facing life’s problems and stress.
Group and/or family therapy
Family and/or group therapy can be helpful in treating anorexia and speeding up the recovery process. Having loved ones understand and share problems makes it easy for the victim to come out of anorexia. It is important that family members identify warning signs and seek timely help.
Being part of a support group, where the victim can openly voice opinions, share problems and talk openly and freely about fears and concerns with others who’ve overcome or faced similar problems can also aid recovery.