Many Individuals With Eating Disorders Are Not Getting Needed Help
As the current economy crisis deepens, many individuals with eating disorders are worried about treatment and not seeking the help they desperately require.
"The danger of not seeking help for an eating disorder can be very serious because they can cause many medical complications, even death," said David Wall, PhD, director of psychological services at Remuda Ranch Programs for Eating and Anxiety Disorders. "Eating disorders often take a turn for the worse due to increased personal and family stress. As eating disorders intensify, they become more difficult to treat."
It's clearly understandable that individuals and their families are reluctant to seek treatment in times like these, but the delay in treatment often makes things worse as the eating disorder may slip into a more severe state.
Stress typically doesn't cause an eating disorder, but stress makes the disorder much worse. Often people with eating disorders use their disorder as their primary means of coping with stress. The stress causes the eating disorder to intensify and as the eating disorder intensifies, it creates more stress for the individual, in something of a vicious cycle where the person's health can spiral rapidly downward.
The family, often the primary system of support for the eating disorder patient, is also experiencing the stress and uncertainty of the current economy and becomes less capable of providing support as their emotional energy and resources are already stretched. This can further worsen the eating disorders, since individuals with eating disorders are often very sensitive to stress in the family and blame themselves for problems that are occurring.
"An eating disorder is often a way for the individual to avoid other problems in his or her life," adds Wall. "The focus on their body and food becomes so intense it helps block other problems. In addition, the eating disorder is often a way of maintaining control, when things are out of control."
Remuda recommends that individuals with eating disorders should not give up. Often people assume they cannot afford treatment so they don't even try to get the help they need. Various levels of providers, whether they are inpatient, outpatient or day treatment, may be even more willing to work with patients during the crisis. It's worth the effort to call several healthcare providers, including Remuda Ranch, seeking some arrangement that can be managed.
"I have seen some churches or a group of friends and family provide funds for treatment," adds Wall. "Don't be embarrassed to seek help. There are many resources out there like self help groups and community health centers."