As a parent of a child with an eating disorder, it can be hard to watch them struggle with something so serious. You may be asking yourself, “will my child’s eating disorder go away on its own?” or “what can I do to help my child recover?” Eating disorders will not solve themselves, however, treatment for eating disorders has come a long way and your child can recover and live a healthier and happier life with a long-term treatment plan.
Why Seeking Treatment for Eating Disorders is so Important
All too often, eating disorders go untreated and this can lead to devastating consequences for your child’s mind and body. For a child suffering from anorexia, not seeking professional help can lead to physical problems such as constipation, anemia, osteoporosis and damage to their heart and brain. For people with bulimia, they may experience sore throat, acid reflux, worn-away tooth enamel and heart attacks. High blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or diabetes may occur in a child who binge eats.
In addition to physical consequences, research shows that people with eating disorders suffer higher rates of other mental disorders than other people. These disorders may include depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse. However, the majority of cases of eating disorders can be successfully treated with the help of professionals that specialize in eating disorder treatment.
How to Find Long-Term Treatment for Your Child’s Eating Disorder
Adolescents suffering with an eating disorder need professional help. While there are many types of eating disorder treatments available, a professional can help guide you and your child toward a treatment plan that will be most beneficial.
1. Assemble a treatment team: Upon discovering that your child may have an eating disorder, your best course of action may be to start by asking their primary care physician for a referral. They may refer you to a specific hospital or to a therapist who specializes in eating disorders.
2. Address health problems: When we think of the health problems associated with eating disorders, we often first think of the drastic weight loss experienced. However, there are other equally dangerous health problems that may arise, making it important to have your child get a full medical evaluation to address any serious and immediate health complications.
3. Make a long-term treatment plan: The treatment team you’ve assembled for your child can develop a long-term recovery plan for eating disorders which may include:
a. Individual or group therapy: Therapy can help improve your child’s self-esteem and help them learn healthy ways of responding to stress or emotional pain.
b. Nutritional counseling: This type of treatment helps incorporate healthy eating behaviors into your child’s life. While nutritional counseling alone cannot cure an eating disorder, it will help your child understand healthy eating practices.
c. Residential treatment: For those who are stable enough that they don’t require hospitalization, but have yet to resolve underlying issues, residential treatment can be an effective option for overcoming eating disorders. This type of treatment can provide a safe, comfortable place to help your child if they’re struggling emotionally, mentally or socially.
d. Partial hospitalization: For those who require more intensive treatment than weekly therapy or intensive outpatient treatment, partial hospitalization may be included in the long-term treatment plan.
e. Outpatient treatment: Outpatient treatment is most often prescribed for individuals who are in need of a comprehensive treatment plan, but without the interruption of their daily activities.
4. Self-help strategies: The more motivated your child is to understand why they developed an eating disorder, and learn healthier coping skills, the quicker they will heal. Encourage them to fully participate in all their eating disorder treatments and develop ways to self-soothe in times of anxiety and stress. These healthy coping techniques may include listening to music, reading a good book, taking a short walk, journaling, enjoying nature, playing a game, and more.
The work of eating disorder recovery doesn’t end once healthier habits have been adopted. Your child will continue to take steps to maintain progress or prevent relapse and will need your support along the path to recovery, whether they’ve completed eating disorder treatments or are currently being treated.
When You’re Ready to Explore Eating Disorder Treatments for Your Child, Adolescent Growth Can Help
With locations in California and Illinois, Adolescent Growth is proud to offer comprehensive treatment for eating disorders, mental illnesses and addiction. Learn more about our eating disorder treatment services, or call 888-948-9998 to speak with an admissions specialist about your child. Alternatively, you can fill out our online form and we’ll call you back at the time of your choosing.