Anorexia Treatment

Anorexia Treatment

One important goal at The Highlands is to help clients and their families understand what anorexia treatment means. Weight and eating behaviors are symptoms of underlying problems, and eating disorders aren’t just about food. Our licensed therapists and dietitians collaborate closely, to provide clients with anorexia nervosa a highly individualized and comprehensive therapy plan. Overcoming anorexia nervosa takes time, and a specialized team. The Highlands utilizes a multidisciplinary approach, which has been proven to be the most effect therapeutic model for success in treatment for anorexia nervosa.

Recognizing When Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa is Necessary

People struggling with anorexia have a fear of gaining weight. They also have a distorted self-image that supports the idea that they don’t have the right body composition or are “too fat”, even though they are often visibly underweight. Self-starvation and excessive weight loss are characteristics of anorexia. Many clients with anorexia are perfectionists, very ordered, and focused. While this can make them high achievers in academics, sports, and work, this drive is also used to support associated anorexic behaviors that are harmful. Treatment for anorexia nervosa requires more than one approach, working simultaneously, in order to be successful. Eating rituals and behaviors are ways that someone with anorexia can deal with anxiety, depression, or more suppressed emotions. These behaviors and rituals help people their control surroundings, which in turn helps control emotions. Understanding underlying issues that lead to eating disorder behaviors are a core part of anorexia treatment. Some of the most common warning signs of anorexia:
  • Severely restriction calorie intake
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Showing fear of foods, seeing them as “safe” foods or “unsafe” food (related to calories)
  • Binging and purging
  • Over-exercising to get rid of calories taken in, fearful of missing workouts
  • Over-using laxatives
  • Obsessively thinking and talking about food and weight
  • Wearing loose clothing
  • Cold intolerance, mood swings, fatigue
  • Constantly using the scale and mirror as feedback
  • Menstrual cycles stops
  • Constant excuses for not eating
  • Inability to eat in front of others at home or at restaurants
  • Ritualistic behaviors regarding meal times and quantity of food
  • Using diet pills and diuretics
  • Drinking excessive amounts of water (to act as a diuretic)
  • Depression and isolation
  • Loss of interest in social activities

The Highlands Anorexia Treatment Team

Anorexia nervosa is the third most common chronic illnesses among adolescents. But it is not just a disease found among teenage girls. Anorexia is a disease shared by both sexes, and is seen in increasing numbers in people in their twenties and thirties, and even in later decades of life. The National Institutes of Health has supported multiple research studies that document the same facts: anorexia is a disease of the brain, with psychological and emotional components, and without professional medical and anorexia treatment can result in severe metabolic changes in the body. Genetics can also play a role in anorexia. In each of our programs clients work interact with:
  • Primary Therapist
  • Family therapist
  • Additional interactions led by other therapists
  • Dietitian
Higher levels of care, such as our Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), are also monitored by a Registered Nurse. Creative arts and movement therapy are included in our PHP and Intensive Outpatient Program. A board certified psychiatrist oversees the care of each of our clients. The Highlands Treatment Center philosophy defines the critical triad of medical care, therapy, and nutrition as essential for each patient. No treatment plan is effective without taking each of these, and how they interact, into consideration. Team meetings and frequent collaboration makes sure that each part of the customized care plan is adjusted according to each client’s needs and progress. Every member of our team brings extensive experience and training, plus a dedication to the difficulties that clients and families with eating disorders face. We are empathetic to the struggles of our clients and families. An intake evaluation, including a medical exam, will determine if a client is able to begin our partial hospitalization program immediately, or requires a short inpatient stay to correct more severe medical problems that involve intravenous hydration, medication, and correction of critical nutritional/metabolic deficiencies. While we don’t provide inpatient medical care, we are happy to work with clients and families on referral questions. More serious later signs of anorexia nervosa include:
  • Slow, irregular heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Anemia
  • Thinning hair on the head, but soft downy, hair growth on the body
  • Dry skin
  • Electrolyte imbalances in the body, which can affect the heart and other muscles in the body
  • Osteoporosis (weak bones)
  • Confusion and difficulty thinking
It is absolutely essential that a person begin anorexia treatment as soon as possible. Ideally, the family, friends, and primary medical provider recognizes the warning symptoms, before more serious physical problems appear.

Anorexia Treatment Modalities

Anorexia treatment at The Highlands means treatment of the whole person. A client’s progressive level of care helps determines the specific customized treatment that is being provided, and can include:
  • 1:1 sessions with primary therapist or family therapist
  • Group sessions and special topic sessions with certified therapists
  • 1:1 sessions with primary dietitian
  • Weekly session with our staff psychiatrist
  • Therapeutic community that supports recovery
  • Group nutrition sessions
  • Food monitoring and processing sessions
  • Live off-site “real time” sessions involving shopping, ordering and eating at restaurants, and other skills to prepare clients for returning home with less fear and more self-confidence
The Highlands Treatment Center provides gentle, progressive guidance and interventions that help clients and their families understand anorexia, increase overall health, and develop skills that will make long-term recovery from anorexia possible.