Hungry for Help

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During my years of working in our Admissions Department, I have talked with many people seeking inpatient treatment for their eating disorder.  It can be frustrating when you are ready to seek help, but funding is not available.  Seeking treatment for an eating disorder can be an uphill battle.  Some commercial insurance companies encourage outpatient treatment and will only pay for inpatient treatment for those individuals who are in medical danger.  For those with Medicaid as their primary insurance, inpatient treatment for an eating disorder is highly unlikely.  People utilizing Medicare have opportunities for inpatient treatment of an eating disorder as well as those fortunate enough to have the ability to pay out of pocket for treatment.  Individuals without these options may feel like giving up, however, there is help available.

Many people feel they have tried outpatient treatment, and feel they will only benefit from checking into the hospital.  There are many levels of outpatient treatment available, however.  An intensive outpatient program, often referred to as IOP, is a type of treatment that exists between traditional outpatient of seeing a therapist once a week and inpatient treatment.  Intensive outpatient involves going to treatment during the day three to five times per week.  If IOP is not available, there are other ways to obtain treatment and effectively handle your eating disorder.  It is important to try to find a therapist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders.  This can make a big difference in the success of your treatment on an outpatient level.  Meeting with a nutritionist or dietician is also helpful.  Group therapy is sometimes dismissed as unhelpful before it is even tried due to social anxiety or a sense that it would be unbeneficial.  However, group therapy, whether it is Overeater’s Anonymous, eating disorder or anxiety focused, is included in inpatient treatment programs and has proven successful when coupled with individual therapy.  Patching together these treatment options of individual therapy with an eating disorder specialist, meeting with a nutritionist, and group therapy sessions could be an alternative to inpatient treatment if it is unavailable.

Inpatient treatment is sometimes necessary, and every individual is different.  The above suggestions will not work for everyone, and these are not intended to be utilized without consulting a licensed mental health professional.  Hopefully, with the upcoming release of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), treatment will become more accessible and more readily funded.  The DSM-V recognizes binge eating as its own disorder, and the hope is that this will bring forth more awareness and treatment options.  No matter where an eating disorder falls along the spectrum, there is help available.  Please see the list below for resources and information about eating disorders.

Resources:

The Elisa Project

Brookhaven Hospital

National Eating Disorders Association

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