Anorexia is characterized by persistent food/calorie restriction, intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, and a disturbance in self-perceived weight or shape. A person with anorexia maintains a body weight that is below the normal level for age and physical health. Usually anorexia starts with excessive dieting and unhealthy thinking about food and/or one’s body. In some instances, anorexia may be accompanied by excessive exercise. Oftentimes persons feel that their behaviors are beyond their voluntary control and experiences significant level of self-critical, negative thoughts and feelings about their body weight, body image and possibly misunderstood food intake. Sometimes the individual continues to engage in this type of thinking/behaving for a long time before their family or friends suspect a problem. Family and friends often feel confused about how best to help because feedback and advice is usually rejected, ignored or misunderstood.
Proper help for a person with anorexia can make a difference. Professional treatment should be sought when the eating behaviors begin having a destructive impact on physical and mental health. Individuals with anorexia may be resistant to seeking treatment, but families should be firmly encouraging and supportive in getting therapy started as soon as possible.
At Silber Psychological Services, we have therapists who have extensive experience in the treatment of eating disorders. A thorough evaluation and accurate diagnosis is the first step. When treatment is recommended, establishment of normal weight and truly healthy, balanced eating patterns are the first priorities. Psychological, social and any family issues which may also be in existence are subsequently addressed.
The therapist helps the client replace destructive and unhealthy thoughts, behaviors and coping strategies with positive and healthy ones. Therapists can also help family members to better understand the client’s disorder and learn new techniques for responding. A multidisciplinary team may often be needed to provide the best treatment results. Individual Therapy, Family Therapy, and Group Therapy often occur simultaneously. Some clients may benefit from medication and/or consultation with a specialized nutritionist. The process of recovery is usually long-term, difficult and fraught with complications, but the journey back to health can be enormously gratifying for the client and family.