Anorexia Nervosa is caused by a combination of genetic/biological issues, environmental stress and various psychological problems – especially anxiety disorders. Anorexia is an extremely complex problem and the most life threatening of all psychiatric disorders. The onset is typically around or just after puberty, although anorexia can also start as early as age 8 to 10 and as late as middle age.
Individuals with anorexia starve themselves to the point of emaciation, significantly compromising their health. All other aspects of their lives are extensively impaired including relationships, schooling and career, normal daily activities and the ability to enjoy life.
Anorexia nervosa is a disease; however, unlike other conditions such as leukemia, HIV, or kidney disease, there is no blood test available to detect its presence in the human body. One diagnostic tool often used by physicians and dieticians is the SCOFF screen, which asks the following questions:
- Do you make yourself sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
- Do you worry you have lost control over how much you eat?
- Have you recently lost more than 15 pounds in a three-month period?
- Do you believe yourself to be fat when others say you are too thin?
- Would you say that food dominates your life?
A “yes” answer to two or more of these questions indicates that an eating disorder may be present.
What Causes Anorexia?
Many factors contribute to the onset of anorexia. Researchers estimate the influence of genetic factors in anorexia to be between 33 to 84%.
Whether this disorder presents itself in a child, adolescent, or woman, dealing with anorexia is extremely difficult for the individual and her family. The idea of anyone literally starving herself up to the point of death makes no sense to friends and family. Sometimes it doesn’t even make sense to the anorexic individual; she just knows that she is overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and fear when she eats.
Although typically not the initial cause of the anorexia, this disorder can begin to serve a very real function in the life of the girl or woman who struggles with it. Perhaps it helps her to numb painful emotions she would rather not feel, or maybe it allows her to feel a sense of control in a life that is otherwise chaotic. Regardless of function, prolonged anorexia can destroy, or even end her life.
Anorexia typically does not resolve itself; professional care is usually required. After the initial onset of the disorder, outpatient treatment is the first approach. This treatment may involve a team of providers, such as a therapist/family therapist, registered dietician, and physician/psychiatrist. Professionals who are experienced and skilled in the assessment and treatment of eating disorders can develop a comprehensive outpatient treatment plan or, based upon their assessments, may recommend a higher level of care. If the eating disorder does not respond to outpatient treatment and/or if outpatient treatment reaches an impasse, inpatient or residential treatment would likely be indicated.
Why Our Anorexia Treatment is Successful
- The cornerstone of all The Meadows Ranch treatment is complete focus on the individual.
- Treatment duration is highly flexible and based on each patient’s unique needs.
- Our age-appropriate program in Arizona offers care to girls as young as eight and ensures that each one receives treatment from professionals specializing in her specific age group.
- Each patient has an individualized treatment plan implemented by a team of professionals.
- Treatment plans include a psychiatric and primary care provider, a registered dietician, a licensed master’s or doctoral-level therapist, a psychologist, and registered nurses.
- Along with treating the patient’s eating disorder, the team also treats co-occurring issues such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse or trauma.
- In addition to individual and group therapy, patients engage in experiential treatments such as art, body image, equine and challenge course therapies.
The Role of Family Week in Treatment A key and critical component of anorexia treatment is family involvement. The Meadows Ranch wants family members to also experience healing through growth, understanding and change. This is accomplished not only through therapeutic phone calls, but also during an intensive Family Week, which occurs halfway through treatment.
We Are Here to Help
We know recovery from an eating disorder is absolutely possible. It’s happening every day at The Meadows Ranch. Based on feedback from patients, families and professionals, the vast majority of our patients remain committed to a life of health, balance and purpose. For additional information about the treatment of eating disorders, please call to speak to an Intake Coordinator at 866-390-5100 or complete the form below and we will contact you with the information you need.