While some people develop eating disorders as adults, many struggle from an early age with body dissatisfaction, pathological eating, and/or full-blown eating disorders. A focus on food and/or body size and shape can inhibit a person’s ability to fully participate in life, and can have dire impacts on physical health, mood, relationships, and all areas of personal and professional life. Particularly in those who suffer for many years, mortality rates, due to both medical complications and suicide, are highest for people with eating disorders than any other psychiatric illness. Clearly, securing effective treatment as soon as possible is critical.
Effective treatment of eating disorders, body dissatisfaction, or problematic eating patterns begins with a thorough assessment to determine the extent, impact, and function of the symptoms. Treatment then involves psychoeducation, and, in most cases, intervention by a multi-disciplinary team including a behavioral therapist, dietician, medical doctor, and/or psychopharmacologist. While some people may be treated effectively for eating disorders at the outpatient level of care, others may first require medical stabilization at a higher level of care (such as a hospital, residential treatment center, or intensive day program), in order to ensure safety.