It is common to have a number of questions and concerns when you are looking for eating disorder treatment for you or a loved one. Questions may include what are the goals of eating disorder treatment and what types of outcomes can I expect after the eating disorder treatment program is complete. In general, outcomes will vary between individuals, but the overall goals of eating disorder treatment are typically consistent.
Goals of Eating Disorder Treatment
Even though individual eating disorder treatment programs may be different based on an individual’s particular needs, most eating disorder treatment programs will typically have similar goals. Goals of eating disorder treatment include:
- Restoring patients to a healthy body weight
- Stabilizing accompanying symptoms and medical conditions of the eating disorder
- Reducing or eliminating negative behaviors including bingeing, purging, and compulsive exercise
- Building self-esteem and improving body image
- Learning new coping skills for dealing with stressful situations
- Learning nutrition and healthy, flexible eating habits
Outcomes of Eating Disorder Treatment
Approximately 75% of people with anorexia will continue to show improvement following an initial treatment, and of these people, 45% will have an excellent outcome while 30% will experience considerable improvement. However, the exact outcomes of eating disorder treatment are difficult to determine as these outcomes can vary from patient to patient. Studies have shown that eating disorder treatment is more effective the sooner an individual is treated. Following eating disorder treatment, it is common that individuals may have life-long struggles with food or body image concerns. Additionally, even though some individuals may be able to return to a normal and healthy body weight more quickly than others may, this does not guarantee that they will not remain overly concerned about eating and weight. It is also important to understand that for all individuals who have completed eating disorder treatment, relapse can occur during periods of stress or change.
There are a number of factors that influence the success and outcomes of eating disorder treatment. These factors associated with a successful recovery include:
- Motivation to change
- Getting help at a young age when the eating disorder first begins
- A short length of the illness
- Length of Absence from binge eating or purging behaviors
- Commitment to treatment
- Acceptance of full weight restoration
While early diagnosis and eating disorder treatment are important to prevent serious medical conditions and to increase an individual’s chances of recovery, eating disorder treatment can be successful for individuals who have suffered from eating disorders for many years and have not succeeded in previous treatments. With proper treatment methods and a strong desire to overcome the disorder, individuals suffering from anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder can recover and continue on to live healthy and satisfying lives.