What are the options? What does treatment look like?
Recovery from an eating disorder is possible with treatment. The “right” treatment must be developed on an individual basis but will usually include a combination of psychotherapy, nutrition education, and medical monitoring. Sometimes antidepressant medications are also prescribed to aid in the process.
Treatment can either occur on an outpatient or inpatient level. In outpatient treatment the patient lives at home but utilizes the resources of support groups, therapists, and physicians. Inpatient treatment on the other hand means the the patient temporarily resides in a hospital or residential care center. This option is best for individuals who are medically unstable or need close behavioral monitoring at all times.
Seeking treatment as soon as possible is important to minimize the long-term damage that eating disorders can cause and because early intervention can facilitate recovery.
But, unfortunately, treatment can be inaccessible!
Despite the clear benefits and necessity of intensive treatment for eating disorders, it is frequently inaccessible. Many insurance companies refuse or limit their coverage, favoring short term models of intervention even when a lengthier treatment plan is needed. Furthermore, diagnostic criteria are often linked to purely physical aspects of the disorder such as weight and overall medical stability. This means that psychologically vulnerable patients can be released prematurely, making relapse nearly inevitable.
Fighting widespread public misconceptions about eating disorders that view them as purely physical or do not recognize their severity will hopefully eventually counteract their chronic dismissal by these insurance companies.