Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, increases in mental health issues have been widely documented. While diagnoses like anxiety and depression are more common, other problems, such as eating disorders, have not been discussed as frequently.
Eating disorders have also increased in the past two years and can be life-threatening, especially if left untreated. Today there are more treatment options available and more access to care for those who need help.
“Eating disorders are on the rise, and medical science is advancing in this area to continually improve treatment outcomes,” said Dr. Margherita Mascolo, chief medical officer at Alsana, a leading eating recovery community and treatment provider. “Our patients consistently report a decrease in eating disorder symptoms after treatment, and just as importantly, our survey data shows they also report a much better quality of life post treatment. This data is very encouraging for patients and their families.”
Eating disorders affect people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, races and socioeconomic statuses. An estimated 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States have an eating disorder, and by 2030, there will be a 5% increase in the number of people with eating disorders, according to the Academy for Eating Disorders.
One of the challenges in treating eating disorders is finding treatment options and models of care that work with individual needs and schedules. For example, college athletes, young mothers and women with careers all have distinctly different lifestyles, so a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment is impractical and unlikely to succeed.
A potential solution is an approach that treats the whole person, such as the adaptive care model used by Alsana, which meets clients where they are in recovery. This holistic approach strives to create an inspiring healing experience that focuses on the patient’s total health. The program is based on five core areas.
Someone working to overcome an eating disorder must build health resilience and establish a physical foundation for recovery. A collaborative and compassionate approach allows for medical issues to be monitored and addressed by specialty-trained physicians. The medical dimension seeks to empower patients by educating them on the organic causes of their symptoms and how to overcome them.
Exploring and growing a sense of purpose and self-expression can empower patients to connect on a deeper level with themselves, others and their sense of purpose or true calling. This means rediscovering the true self, feeling confident in expressing individual potential and working toward personal goals. Instilling hope, inspiration and motivation along the healing journey can provide patients with the tools and knowledge to thrive long after completing treatment so they have a positive outlook for the future.
Proper nutrition plays an important role in recovery. Patients must learn to balance nourishment and pleasure on a physical and emotional level to restore a nurturing relationship between food and their bodies. Guidance and exposure to balanced food choices and real-life eating experiences helps build confidence and promotes enjoyment of meal experiences, not just the food itself.
Physical activity can be healing for both the mind and body. Listening and responding to the body creates a strong foundation of body awareness. Movement is an avenue toward achieving optimal health, but it’s also a way to learn to appreciate and connect with your body on a deeper level.
Through therapy, patients can work to heal from trauma, negative feelings, fears and challenges that may be standing in the way of recovery. Practices that treat the person (not the disorder) can prove effective.
Again, no treatment plan is one-size-fits all, and finding the right care is essential to recovery.
“Focusing on the patient’s total health is an innovative treatment model that is proving effective,” said Mascolo. “Our caregivers provide personalized care, compassion and support to complement the medical, nutritional and psychological therapies in a holistic treatment model.”
Find more information about eating disorders and available treatments at alsana.com.