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Understanding The Medicinal And Behavioral Components Of Eating Disorder Treatment

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If you currently have an eating disorder and want to become healthier, then you will need to seek out treatment with your physician or through an eating disorder treatment facility. Treatments are often multifaceted and involve the use of traditional medical treatments as well as behavior modification therapy. If you want to know about a few of the different types of things that are likely to happen during your eating disorder treatment, then keep reading.

Medication Treatment

Eating disorders are considered serious mental disorders that must be treated like other types of mental illnesses. While many people think of eating disorders as behavioral, they have some of the same features as other basic mental disorders like depression and bipolar disorder. For example, eating disorders have a hereditary link, meaning you may develop the anorexia or bulimia if your mother or grandmother also had the disease. The disorder also involves emotional impairment like other mental illnesses, and basic biological changes are noted when you develop an eating disorder.

Since the features of an eating disorder clearly indicate that it is a mental disorder, medication can be used to help treat it. In many cases, antidepressants are prescribed, even if you do not show signs of depression. Eating disorders have been directly linked to reduced levels of serotonin in the brain. If you have bulimia, then binge eating and purging can cause serotonin to elevate, making you feel happier and more content. When the serotonin levels in your brain are more consistent, you are less likely to act upon impulses that tell you to eat in a certain way. SSRI antidepressants can level out the serotonin to stop the behaviors associated with the eating disorder.

In some cases, specific types of anti-seizure medications are provided to help reduce obsessive thoughts about weight loss and eating. Your doctor will work with you to determine which medication or medications will work best for you based on your symptoms.

Behavior Therapy

While medication can help to reduce thoughts and actions that lead to obsession over weight and the need to binge or starve yourself, behavior therapy is also a required part of treatment. When you have an eating disorder, the act of eating is seen as a negative thing. These negative thoughts trigger the brain to feel anxiety, fear, and depression when you do eat. Under normal circumstances, the brain releases serotonin into the body when you eat food. This produces a feeling of calm and happiness. This is one reason why people feel happy when they eat food. 

If you have an eating disorder, then serotonin may only be released when your eating actions are inappropriate. Binging and purging may cause the chemical to release into the body, or the act of starving yourself may do this. If you eat normally, then the brain may release a stress chemical called cortisol into the body instead. This makes you feel anxious and the act of eating continues to be a negative experience. 

The brain will stop releasing cortisol in response to normal eating behaviors if the inappropriate behaviors are stopped and healthy ones are developed and continued over a long period of time. Behavior modification is the name of the therapy that helps you to develop positive eating habits once again.

The therapy is often extremely difficult and requires a rigid eating plan. The plan is developed at a treatment facility and the facility will make sure you are preparing and eating healthy meals over the course of the day. This may mean that you must live in an in-patient facility for some time. However, out-patient therapy as well as in-home treatment is available to people in need. For example, part of the therapy may involve eating in front of others, but you may need to learn how to eat healthy and appropriate meals on your own first. 

Contact a treatment center or click here for more info about how to treat your eating disorcer.