Eating disorders are one of the most commonly misunderstood mental illnesses people can experience. Often going undetected until far too late, the consequences of this devastating illness can ravage not only the health of an individual, but the wellbeing of their families as well.
Clinic Les Alpes wants to support you and your loved ones in overcoming eating disorders, and doing so with compassion and respect. After ensuring a physical and psychological stability, treatment here will enable individuals to challenge their distorted beliefs about food and body image, rebuild healthier beliefs, and develop strong coping strategies to keep them safe in the long-term.
Why Choose an Eating Disorder Rehab in Switzerland
Eating disorders, perhaps uniquely amongst mental illnesses, have incredibly dangerous consequences for physical health as well as psychological health. It is not simply enough to attend therapy, but patients must be closely monitored in a medicalised environment to encourage weight stabilisation, address any somatic issues, and then start to work on recovering from the eating disorder in question. Clinic Les Alpes is uniquely qualified to provide this high level of care, as a licenced clinical facility whose staff also hold their own licences to practise medical and therapeutic care. Patients and their families can rest assured that their loved one is getting the highest quality of care in full safety, luxury, and privacy in the surroundings of pristine lake and mountain views.
What Is An Eating Disorder?
Eating Disorders is a term used by medical and therapy professionals to refer to a range of mental health conditions related to an individual’s relationship with food, exercise, and their body image. This typically presents with abnormal eating habits and a preoccupation with a person’s own body size, weight, or shape. These disorders are among some of the most deadly when compared to other mental illnesses, and have serious impacts on a person’s psychological and physical wellbeing.
While there is a spectrum of eating disorders, three of the most common ones are:
These people have an intense fear of gaining weight, and their distorted body image pushes them to a relentless pursuit of thinness. They typically are very restrictive with their food, leading to significant weight loss, however they may also obsessively exercise as well.
These people typically will engage in food ‘binges’ where they consume excessive amounts of food in a manner that feels uncontrollable. In order to prevent weight gain, they will then engage in compensatory or purging behaviours such as vomiting, laxative use, or excessive exercise. Those suffering from bulimia are more likely to maintain a ‘normal’ weight range, making it difficult to identify when someone is suffering.
These people engage regularly in food ‘binges’, often very rapidly and to the point of discomfort. However, unlike those with bulimia they do not engage in compensatory behaviours. This may lead to obesity or other digestive related issues.
Eating Disorder Symptoms: What Are the Signs of Eating Disorders?
As mentioned before, there is a wide range of eating disorders, and each disorder has its own set of diagnostic criteria. However, there are some patterns of disordered eating or food and exercise related behaviours that may indicate someone may be at risk. These include, but are not limited to:
- Do you ever hide food or eat in secret?
- Do you ever avoid social situations, particularly those involving food?
- Have you ever found yourself minimising or denying the seriousness of your weight loss or eating habits?Have you lost or gained a significant amount of weight, particularly in a short period of time?
- Do you feel yourself having constant thoughts about food, calories, or dieting?
- Do you feel an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, regardless of your current weight?
- Do you experience, or has someone told you that you have, a distorted perception of body shape and size, often seeing yourself as overweight even when underweight?
- Do you ever engage in episodes of consuming large amounts of food in a short period, accompanied by a sense of loss of control?
- Do you regularly engage in compensatory behaviours to prevent weight gain, such as vomiting, excessive exercise, or laxative use?
- Do you feel a strong emphasis on body weight and shape when evaluating your sense of worth or value?
- Do you ever use food consumption to cope with difficult emotions, especially when not physically hungry?
- Are you highly selective when eating, avoiding certain textures, smells, or types of food?
If you have said ‘yes’ for yourself, or someone you know, for any of the above points, it may be time to seek professional help and support. Attending a rehabilitation centre can be a great way to start your recovery journey by addressing not only the disordered eating behaviour, but also the root causes of why you engage in disordered eating in the first place.
What Happens in Eating Disorder Rehabilitation?
Patients will undergo full physical and psychological assessments with our clinical teams in order to determine their unique needs and goals during treatment. This process should take between 5-10 days, and will enable the creation of an individualised treatment plan, unique to your requirements.
The somatic aspect of treatment revolves around very careful re-nutrition of the individual, and monitoring their physical health and wellbeing. This not only promotes weight gain and stabilisation, but also prevents any complications involved from too much food intake too quickly. Any pre-existing health concerns as a result of the eating disorder will also be addressed such as poor dental care or troubled digestive systems.
The psychological aspect of treatment will focus on identifying the root causes of the eating disorder in order to better understand how they continue to have such a lasting impact on the person. In addition to challenging these root causes, the patient will be supported in building new health-promoting beliefs and developing behaviours that are healthier around food, exercise, and body image. This process can be very intensive, and requires a lot of commitment from the patient in order to ensure that this change is long lasting.
Prior to graduation from treatment, patients will be supported to work with their lead therapist to create a solid aftercare plan. This involves connecting them with all necessary professionals to continue supporting the patient’s recovery. Patients can also expect to work on a relapse prevention plan, that will be a shortcut plan to remind them of all their tools and strategies to protect them from relapse.
What Causes Eating Disorders, And Who Gets Them?
There are many stereotypes around what causes an eating disorder, and what kind of person develops them. The image that may typically come to mind is a young girl who is facing pressures from social and traditional media to be thinner or more beautiful than her peers. However, up to 40% of some eating disorder condition patients are male, and men are far less likely than women to both ask for help, and to be offered it.
The reality is that eating disorders are complex conditions influenced by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors. It's essential to understand that these disorders are not solely about food or weight but often serve as ways for individuals to cope with emotional distress and a sense of lack of control. Some factors that may contribute to the development of eating disorders include:
- Genetic and biological factors
- Psychological factors
- Sociocultural influences
- Family Dynamics
- Personality Traits
- Dieting and weight concerns
- Other mental health conditions.
Anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background, can develop an eating disorder. Early intervention and comprehensive, multidisciplinary treatment that addresses the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of these disorders are essential for recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please seek professional help as soon as you can to protect yourself and your future.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How long does rehab for eating disorders take?
The duration of treatment for eating disorders is highly individualised and varies widely. Unlike other mental illnesses, there is often a significant level of care that must be taken to ensure that patients are physically stable before they start their therapeutic journey. This includes establishing a consistent weight increase into a normal range, stable cardiac rhythms, adequate digestive tract functioning and more.
A second factor to consider is the patient’s readiness for change. Many who struggle with eating disorders are in denial about the severity of their case, and will resist efforts to reestablish a healthy weight and challenge their internal disordered beliefs. However, should a patient be physically stable and ready to change, most professionals recommend starting with a 28 day in-patient programme in order to best target root causes, eliminate compensatory behaviours, and build new coping strategies.
Can people recover from eating disorders?
Absolutely, people can and do recover from eating disorders. The journey is often considered to be the work of a lifetime, however those who enter into recovery say that it completely changed their quality of life. It is important to remember that change comes when the affected person is ready to change, and recovery cannot be forced upon anyone.
How can I help someone with an eating disorder?
Supporting someone with an eating disorder can be difficult, but it is important to remember to take a compassionate approach and be as educated as possible. The key to long-term recovery is early intervention with professional help - facilitating someone suffering from an eating disorder accessing that help, will ultimately be for the best. Avoid making comments about their appearance or food, remember to come from a place of empathy, and do your best to support healthy coping strategies and behaviours.