A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Treatment of Eating Disorders
The very nature of addictions makes eating disorders difficult to treat in an outpatient setting. It is important to have an additional support network as well as added structure to ensure proper treatment. This structure can be obtained either by admitting to an inpatient facility for eating disorders or by engaging a multidisciplinary team for treatment outpatient. Below, we will discuss important members of a multidisciplinary team for treatment.
1. Emotional Intervention and Evaluation – Therapist/Psychologist (Click here for recommended professionals in the Southern Nevada area)
It is important to start building your team with a therapist or psychologist. This professional will work with you on a regular (usually weekly) basis to discuss issues related to your eating disorder. It is important to find a therapist who is knowledgeable and experienced in the treatment of eating disorders. Depending on their orientation and your specific needs, therapists or psychologists will help you address one or more of the following issues:
1. Relationship Issues- Eating disorders have a lot to do with relationships, whether inside or outside of the family environment. It is important to discuss relationships and how they are affected by the eating disorder.
2. Body Image Issues
3. Help clients learn skills to combat the eating disorder in practical ways and to prevent relapse.
4. Spiritual connections- Your therapist/psychologist may help you explore spiritual connections as a way to gather strength to fight the eating disorder if this is important to you.
5. Perfectionism- Many clients with eating disorder issues struggle with perfectionistic thinking, your therapist/psychologist will help you give yourself room to be human. J
6. Understanding and expressing feelings in a positive way – Because the eating disorder is a way to “shut off” feelings, it is important in recovery to learn how to express feelings in a positive way.
2. Medical Evaluation and Structure: Physician (Click here for recommended physicians)
Because eating disorders can cause significant damage to one’s body, it is important to see a physician for a thorough physical examination and maintain regular follow up appointments. Seek a physician that knows about eating disorders. In this evaluation, it is important to do the following:
1. Comprehensive lab work to identify any potential electrolyte imbalances, including sodium and potassium irregularities.
2. Address any gastrointestinal difficulties or irregularities including slowing of gastric emptying, patterns of diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and esophageal damage such as dilation or rupture, constant sore throat or reflux.
3. Explore coronary problems and potential risks associated with long term eating disorders which can include significant arrhythmia, chest pain, slow heart rate, low blood pressure, reduced body temperature, weakness and fatigue.
4. Discuss any irregularities in menstrual cycle including amenorrhea.
5. Look for dental and bone problems like osteoporosis, tooth decay and gum erosion.
3.Dietary Intervention and Structure: Registered Dietitian (Click here for recommended dietitians)
When seeking treatment for an eating disorder, it is imperative to have the proper dietary guidance and consultation to address the nutritional aspects of the disorder. It is important to find a dietitian that specializes in eating disorders. When looking for a dietitian, consider the following:
1. Find a dietitian who has had experience working with clients that struggle with eating disorders.
2. Look for a dietitian who does not focus on dieting, watching fat grams, and counting calories, but who understands the obsessive nature of eating disorders and who can provide needed structure and guidance without increasing obsessions.
3. Find a dietitian who is familiar with the exchange program and intuitive eating.
Many clients believe that they already know about diet and nutrition, but oftentimes their knowledge has been distorted significantly by the disorder. They need an expert to challenge their false notions and to provide accountability. Dietitians also offer much needed encouragement and reassurance.
4. Psychiatrist (Click here for recommended psychiatric providers)
Research has shown that therapy in conjunction with psychotropic medications can be more effective in the treatment of eating disorders than therapy alone. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor that specializes in psychological problems and challenges. He or she can assist you by prescribing medications for you depending on your unique situation. He or she can also evaluate the effectiveness of your medications through regular (usually monthly) follow-up appointments. Psychiatric medications may help with:
1. Anxiety or panic attacks
3. Urges to binge and purge or possibly restrict your food intake.
Again, it is important to find a psychiatrist who knows about eating disorders and therefore can make the proper assessment.
5. Support groups- (Click here for support and therapy groups in Southern Nevada)
Recovery from an eating disorder requires a tremendous amount of support from others. Group therapy is a great way to get support from others. Some of the advantages of group therapy are:
1. Learning that you are no longer alone in your struggles.
2. Having the opportunity to have a sense of belonging.
3. Seeing others’ victories in recovery which increases hopefulness.
4. Revealing secrets which combats shame and guilt.