1. What type of eating disorders are most common? Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)
2. Are there different ways of treating different eating disorders? Or do you take the same sort of approach for each? Each eating disorder manifests slightly differently depending on many factors. Therefore, treatment looks different for each person. At Living Proof MN, there is no “cookie cutter” approach. Everyone is treated as an individual and treatment is tailored to their unique needs. The foundation for treatment at Living Proof MN is based on a family model. This model has shown to be incredibly effective.
3. Are there certain personality traits an individual may have that are common in people with eating disorders? While no two people with an eating disorder are exactly alike, sometimes researchers see some personality or temperament similarities arise in some individuals with eating disorders. Those with anxiety, perfectionism, harm or risk avoidance, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and rejection sensitivity may be at higher risk. Those struggling with an eating disorder may also tend to be rigid and driven. When turned into assets, all these qualities often make those with eating disorders into incredibly resilient, successful people.
4. What are common causes for eating disorders? Eating disorders are caused by a complex mixture of genetic, biological components and various environmental factors. After many years of research, scientists believe the genetic vulnerability or the environmental risk factors alone would not cause an eating disorder, but combined, they could cause what is sometimes referred to as "the perfect storm." Environmental risk factors include exposure to diet culture, a parent dieting, and sports and/or careers that place an emphasis on appearance. This may cause someone to diet, creating an energy deficit where someone is expending more energy than they are taking in. In someone with the genetic predisposition for an eating disorder, this energy deficit becomes out of control and develops into an eating disorder. Stress and adverse life events may also increase to risk for the development of an eating disorder when other factors are present.
5. Does insurance typically cover treatment for eating disorders? Insurance coverage for any mental health treatment, including eating disorders, varies widely based on the individual's insurance plan. Treatment, especially inpatient or residential, is extremely expensive and insurance coverage is not always 100%, so people often end up paying high out of pocket expenses. This limits access for many to treatment.
6. If someone were to disclose to me that they're struggling with an eating disorder, what is the best way that I can show my support? If someone is disclosing their eating disorder to you, they likely have some part of them that wants to change, although they may feel torn between a desire for recovery and a desire to stay in their eating disorder and these desires may fluctuate constantly. Be patient. Getting upset, giving an ultimatum, and oversimplifying what to do with statements like, "just eat!" is not going to fix their eating disorder. Validate their struggle by avoiding statements like, "But you don't look that thin/sick" or "But I've seen you eat fine before." Eating disorders are difficult and if they are disclosing to you, that means they are hurting and they need your validation that this is hard and you will be there for them. They don't need you to fix them, they need you to walk alongside them in this journey.
7. How do you approach a loved one if you're concerned they may have some sort of eating disorder? If you are concerned, avoid this conversation at a meal time. Stick to facts about what you have observed that made you concerned, not a confrontational manner. Say you are concerned and that you care and are there for them.
8. How do you show that you support and care about someone with an eating disorder, without coming across as too nosy and over invested? Telling someone you care and you are there can go a long way. Sit with them in the hard times without feeling like you have to do something to fix it. You cannot fix their eating disorder. Do some reading or find some podcasts or other quality educational materials on eating disorders and put the effort into learning what they are experiencing in their mind and body to gain empathy for their experience. Look for support groups for those supporting those with eating disorders. Living Proof MN offers a group for supporters over Zoom.
9. I've learned that eating disorders don't discriminate and can impact all types of individuals, but is there a common trend in who is affected most by an eating disorder? Statistics show that eating disorders are more commonly diagnosed in young females. However, because of stigma, many males, older females, and minorities go undiagnosed so we may not have an accurate picture of the true statistics.
10. How does one determine if someone with an eating disorder is in need of inpatient treatment? Inpatient treatment has pros and cons like any decision in life. If someone's life and/or safety are at risk, they may need nutritional rehabilitation in an inpatient setting. At Living Proof MN, we recognize that many spend years cycling in and out of treatment centers and if medically stable, traditional inpatient or residential treatment might not be the road to recovery for everyone.
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