Monday, October 4, 2010

Is Recovery From an Eating Disorder Possible?

In working with families that have a loved one struggling with an eating disorder, one of the most common questions asked is about recovery. Can a person truly recover? 

The short answer to this question is: Yes, a person can fully recover with appropriate treatment. Research has demonstrated that while some people may struggle lifelong with an eating disorder, a majority of people can make a full recovery.

Here are four factors that can help lead to a full recovery:

1. Early Detection. Like other illnesses, the sooner a person begins treatment, the better likelihood of recovery. The longer a person engages in eating disorder symptoms, the more difficult the recovery can be.

2. Treatment Team Approach. Since eating disorders are complex illnesses that involve both medical and psychological issues, treatment should involve a therapist, physician and dietician. All of your care providers should have experience in treating eating disorders.

3. Type of Therapy. There are many different types of therapy for eating disorders. Choosing a therapy supported by research promotes the best chance for recovery. For children and teens, this therapy is called Family Based Treatment or the Maudsley Method. For adults, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the treatment of choice.

4. Appropriate Level of Care.  It’s imperative that a person receive care at the most appropriate level based upon their symptoms. This can be outpatient, day treatment or inpatient care. Your treatment providers should help you determine which level is appropriate.

Intervening early with a treatment team approach using a proven and research-supported therapy model at the appropriate level of care increases a person's chances of a full recovery from an eating disorder.

Dr. Heidi Limbrunner is a licensed psychologist with Southeast Psych in Charlotte. She specializes in the treatment of eating disorders.  You can contact her at 704-970-4791.