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Eating disorders are serious conditions that affect clients’ lives in many different ways, leading to nutritional deficiencies, chronic physical complications, poor self-esteem and much more. If left untreated, some eating disorders can even be fatal. For this reason, it is important for anyone who has an eating disorder to seek professional treatment as soon as possible. However, not all treatment programs designed for people with an eating disorder are equally effective. Treatment programs may incorporate a number of different therapies to help clients with eating disorders, but the best treatment programs will utilize psychiatric care. Psychiatric eating disorder treatment is often essential because it addresses the psychological aspects of eating disorders.

About Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are illnesses that develop when people engage in atypical and unsafe eating behaviors, such as binging, purging or calorie restriction. The most common eating disorders are binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa. Binge eating disorder is characterized by a cycle of eating unreasonable amounts of food and then experiencing intense guilt. Anorexia nervosa is characterized by significant food restriction and/or excessive exercise. Bulimia nervosa is characterized by a cycle of eating significant amounts of food and purging the body through excessive exercise, self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives.

Although each of these eating disorders is different, they all have a psychological component. Understanding and addressing the psychological components of an eating disorder is one of the best ways to help clients overcome the disorder and enjoy a better life. 

Causes of Eating Disorders

Scientists have not been able to identify a single specific cause of eating disorders. However, it is believed that eating disorders typically develop as a result of a combination of different factors, including genetic factors, environmental factors, and psychological factors. Although all of these different factors are important in the development of eating disorders, psychological factors play a particularly important role.

How Psychological Issues Contribute to the Development of Eating Disorders

A wide range of psychological issues and personality traits can raise the risk of someone developing an eating disorder. Some of the most common contributing psychological factors include:

● A history of trauma – A history of trauma, particularly sexual abuse, can contribute to the development of an eating disorder in the future. 

● A negative body image – Most people who have an eating disorder have a negative body image, which means that they have an unreasonably negative view of their weight and body shape. Because of the influence of the media, as well as peer pressure, negative body image is a common problem. 

● Co-occurring psychological disorders – People who have eating disorders are more likely to have other psychological disorders simultaneously, such as depression, borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorders, and other such issues.

● Certain personality traits – Certain personality traits, such as perseverance and a tendency toward perfectionism, can also contribute to the development of eating disorders. These traits make it more likely that individuals will want to perfect their body image, as well as more likely that they will be able to stick to the unsafe eating behaviors that characterize eating disorders. 

Why Psychiatric Care Is Necessary

For most clients, the development of an eating disorder will have at least one psychiatric component. For this reason, it is essential for people with eating disorders to enroll in treatment programs that incorporate psychiatric care. The goal of psychiatric treatment is to address the specific psychiatric issues that led to the development of the disorder so that clients have a better chance of making a full recovery. In most cases, psychiatric treatment will be combined with other forms of therapy for maximum effectiveness.

How Psychiatric Treatment Helps Clients with Eating Disorders

During psychiatric eating disorder treatment, psychiatrists and other professionals with expertise in this field begin by conducting thorough interviews with the client. Based on the information gleaned during this process, healthcare professionals are able to determine which specific psychological factors have contributed to the development of the individual’s disorder. Using this information, the treatment professional can design a customized treatment plan that addresses each issue individually to improve the client’s mental status and help him or her to overcome the disorder.

For example, if the healthcare professional determines that an individual with an eating disorder has co-occurring disorders as well, such as PTSD, the professional will create a treatment program that addresses these other disorders. Treatments may include counseling, medication and/or other therapies. Similarly, if the healthcare professional discovers that a client with an eating disorder has a history of sexual abuse, incorporating counseling and other therapies into the client’s treatment plan to address the issues related to this traumatic history will be beneficial. 

What Types of Psychiatric Eating Disorder Treatment Are Available?

Psychiatric eating disorder treatment may come in many forms. For example, clients under psychiatric treatment may be prescribed medication to help them cope with specific symptoms. Clients who are receiving psychiatric treatment for eating disorders may also participate in individual counseling or psychotherapy sessions where they will talk with a therapist about the psychological issues that have led to the development of their disorder. In addition, many clients will also participate in group therapy, family therapy and alternative forms of psychiatric treatment designed to address the underlying factors that lead to and perpetuate eating disorders. 

Treatment programs may be structured in two different ways: as day treatment psychiatric treatment or residential psychiatric treatment. Day treatment programs conduct therapy sessions during the day and dismiss clients to their homes in between appointments. Residential psychiatric treatment, on the other hand, requires clients to remain in the psychiatric treatment center throughout the entire treatment program. Both of these program structures offer different advantages and disadvantages.

For example, while day treatment programs provide clients with more freedom, they are not as intensive or structured as residential programs. Clients should consider their options carefully to decide which program structure is best for their needs.

Finding Good Quality Psychiatric Care

Clients who have been diagnosed with eating disorders need to seek professional treatment as soon as possible, and good quality psychiatric care is an important part of any effective treatment program. However, some eating disorder treatment centers may not offer psychiatric care as part of their treatment programs. Likewise, among those treatment centers that do offer day treatment or residential psychiatric care, not all facilities will provide psychiatric treatment with the same level of effectiveness. Thus, it is important for clients and their families to research different programs and compare them thoroughly before making a choice. 

When comparing different programs, clients and their families should consider all of the following factors:

● Services available – Many different types of psychiatric care can be used to treat eating disorders. Some of these services may be more effective for individual clients than others. In general, it is best to find a facility that offers a wide range of psychiatric treatment services. However, if this is not possible, clients should choose a program that offers the services they think will be most beneficial to them. 

● Structure of the program – Psychiatric treatment programs may be structured as day treatment or residential psychiatric care. In addition, these programs also vary according to their length, schedules, and other structural factors. Clients should investigate the structure of the program before enrolling to ensure that it is a good fit.

● Location of the program – Psychiatric treatment centers are available all over the country. Some of these treatment centers may be in more convenient locations than others, allowing clients to attend day treatment sessions without traveling as far or remain close to home during residential psychiatric treatment. However, it is important to note that the location of a program should not be the most important factors considered. Ensuring that the facility offers quality treatment should always be the priority. 

● Cost of the program – The cost of different eating disorder treatment programs varies considerably. In addition, the payment options available from different psychiatric treatment centers vary as well. For example, while some treatment centers may accept payments from insurance companies, others may not. Likewise, some treatment centers may offer payment plans for clients who are not able to pay the entire cost of treatment at once, while others may require full payment upfront.  

● The program’s reputation – The reputation of different eating disorder treatment centers can provide a significant amount of information about the effectiveness of the facility. To learn about the reputations of different treatment centers, clients can research the treatment center online, read reviews, read testimonials and talk to people who have received treatment at the facility in the past. 

● Success rates – The success rate of a given psychiatric treatment program is also an important consideration. Before enrolling in a program, clients who want to recover from eating disorders should inquire about success rates. 

● Aftercare resources – After completing an eating disorder treatment program, most clients will need continuing support in order to maintain their recovery. Every eating disorder treatment facility offers its own selection of aftercare resources. The better these resources are, the better the client’s chances will be of avoiding relapse after completing treatment. Clients should explore the availability of aftercare resources before beginning treatment in any program. 

Clementine Programs is an affiliate of Monte Nido that serves adolescents exclusively. At our facilities, we understand that psychiatric care is an important component of any eating disorder treatment program. When an adolescent comes to one of Monte Nido with an eating disorder, a trained psychiatrist will begin the treatment process by getting to know the client well so that he or she can identify and understand the specific psychiatric factors that led to the development of the client’s disorder. After identifying these factors, the psychiatrist will work to empower the client and equip her with the tools she needs to deal with these issues and ultimately overcome them. The tools used in psychiatric treatment at Clementine may include medication, therapy or a combination of the two.

Clementine provides a residential psychiatric treatment program that can benefit clients with all types of eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and other eating disorders. Our program includes four levels of care that every client must move through in order to graduate from treatment. The amount of time that must be spent in residential psychiatric care will vary from one client to the next, depending on her progress. Every level of the program incorporates psychiatric treatment. Medical care, nursing care, educational resources, nutritional counseling and a variety of other services are also available and used to improve the effectiveness of treatment. 

Clementine programs have facilities in several convenient locations around the country. Please contact us today to learn more about enrolling in a residential psychiatric eating disorder treatment program.