The Importance of A Support System in Anorexia Recovery

When someone receives a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, it’s natural for them to experience worry and fear about the future. It’s an extremely dangerous mental health disorder and treatment can be difficult and extensive. For those reasons, treatment of anorexia nervosa should include some aspect of family support or that of a close-knit group of friends. The anorexia nervosa treatment process takes thorough planning, with a support system of loved ones and therapists in place when the individual moves on to aftercare.

A long-term recovery without a support structure is possible, but it’s much easier when the patient has educated, caring, and responsible people there to hold them up.

While the program for treatment a person chooses to attend is crucial, what they do following recovery is just as important.  When seeking out an anorexia nervosa recovery center for your loved one, make sure you take into account how comprehensive their aftercare and support programs are.

Anorexia Nervosa: Signs and Symptoms

Anorexia nervosa, which leads all mental health disorders in causing death, is a potentially life-threatening behavioral disorder characterized by consistent and pathological restriction of food intake, severe weight loss and inability to maintain body weight, body dysmorphia (flawed or distorted body image), and occasionally abuse of medications like amphetamines or laxatives.

Based on fear of gaining weight and attempting to exert control over their lives, people with anorexia nervosa make great efforts to restrict the number of calories they eat. They may also engage in excessive or compulsive exercise, beyond the point of self-injury.  Although the common perception is that anorexia nervosa only affects young women, this mental health disorders can affect people of all ages, genders, races, and social backgrounds.

What Are the Warning Signs of Anorexia Nervosa?

Each person has a unique experience with anorexia nervosa, but several diagnostic criteria are common in most cases. Anorexia nervosa may also present as atypical anorexia nervosa, in which the individual does not reach a dangerously low body weight:

  • Refusal to eat certain foods or pushing foods around on the plate
  • Frequent, extreme dieting
  • Avoiding public meals or finding excuses not to eat
  • Obsessing over the number of calories taken in
  • Constant weighing and counting calories
  • Only eating in private
  • The inability to maintain a medically appropriate body weight
  • Ceasing to menstruate
  • Low energy, fatigue, and feeling cold constantly
  • Sleeplessness or insomnia
  • Avoiding public meals and restaurants

It’s Important to Act Quickly If a Diagnosis Is Made

The longer someone lives with anorexia nervosa, the harder it can be to counteract the disorder. That may seem like a minor problem, but anorexia nervosa is a dangerous disorder that can cause death. If it is ignored or goes untreated, the health risks can pile up and become insurmountable. People with anorexia nervosa also tend to experience other forms of mental health disorder as well, such as depressions, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation.

That’s why it’s essential for recovery that families reach out for help from an eating disorder treatment center or psychiatric professional sooner rather than later if they suspect anorexia nervosa is present. As the patient’s support system is helping to locate the right anorexia nervosa recovery center for their loved ones, they should look for a comprehensive treatment program that includes evidence-based therapies like CBT as well as group and family therapy sessions that extent a support system around them.

Anorexia Nervosa Aftercare: How to Build a Support System

Most treatment facilities for eating disorders have a pre-planned aftercare system in place and will get their patients’ families involved early during the treatment process. Often, family counseling is part of the weekly routine in residential or day treatment, and the education they receive greatly improves their ability to support their loved ones after graduation.

Heading home and back into a regular routine without a solid aftercare plan can greatly increase the odds of relapse, undoing the progress made during active treatment. Almost every kind of behavioral health disorder can be triggered by stress or other difficult situations. With training on wellbeing practices, meal planning, and other support methods, the family members of the recovered individual can become the bedrock of a healthier, happier lifestyle.

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