Please Help Change Eating Disorder Treatment
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Treatment for eating disorders is frequently causing more harm than good.
The treatment currently being offered to people, like myself, with eating disorders is failing patients in far too many instances.
Too many of us with dangerous eating disorders are being being ‘treated’ with antiquated methods that are not allowing us to reach our full recovery potential and all too frequently can exacerbate our illness.
I am not alone in having left the treatment on offer to recover without specialist support because the treatment offered is damaging.
We know that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness but mortality rate aside, eating disorders are mentally, physically, socially and emotionally disabling and leave the person with the illness living a hollow and miserable existence.
Eating disorder treatment already faces grossly inadequate funding which is bad enough but when this poor funding is being spent on treatment that is unhelpful and can be damaging, it approaches negligence.
Examples of where treatment is currently potentially harmful include:
- People with a history of anorexia or restrictive eating which left them severely malnourished are being treated with restrictive prescribed diets and being told that to eat more than this would be wrong. This reinforces their disordered belief system that if one ate even a slice of toast more at breakfast, it would be ‘too much food’ and exacerbates their fears around food that they need to overcome in recovery.
- Weight stigma is prevalent and impacting on treatment of eating disorders. Patients are being denied treatment unless their weight is at a significantly low level by a BMI chart and they are being set ‘target weights’ that are still far too low for the weight that is natural for their body. Once a patient hits this target, they are told to reduce their food intake to maintain it, reinforcing the illness as they have to continue to restrict or exercise to hold their weight at an artificially low level.
- People who might only have been ill for a few years are being labelled as ‘severe and enduring’ and told that they can never fully recover. This leaves people living with a powerful illness that is destroying their lives, left desolate and despairing as any hope of recovery is taken from them by ‘specialists’. This is unacceptable. Eating disorders are always treatable, no matter length of illness, severity or age.
- People with eating disorders frequently have severe compulsive exercise and movement behaviours that are incredibly powerful in perpetuating the illness and unless addressed fully, impact on their likelihood of full recovery. Despite this, treatment teams are all too often prescribing walks for patients and promoting other forms of movement, when to overcome the compulsion to move the patient needs to stop all unnecessary movement for a time.
- In some cases, patients are being forced to face their weight on a scale more than once a week, despite the fact that seeing this number triggers their symptoms. Some treatment teams will refuse to allow a patient to be ‘blind weighed’ which can be detrimental to the recovery of their patient.
- Treatment for adults is also frequently excluding family members and not encouraging patients to seek support from their loved ones which could be invaluable in their recovery. Blame on family is also still all too common although we now know family is never to blame.
This petition demands a full review of the treatment being offered to patients for eating disorders in the world today.
Recovery rates for eating disorders could be drastically improved if those of us needing treatment were supported appropriately and allowed to feel safe enough to eat without any restriction, to stop all compensatory behaviours and encouraged to gain to a weight that is natural for our body.
We have to be reassured that we can and will recover and we can and in fact have to feed our starved bodies and respond to our deep levels of hunger.
Teams need to respect and listen to their patients and learn from the lived experiences of people, like myself, who are recovered or are recovering about what really does help them.
For me, I am now recovering outside of treatment, having to unlearn the poor advice and treatment approaches I have received in the past but after 13 years of severe anorexia nervosa I am finally getting well. I know hundreds of other adults around the world bravely doing the same.
Please sign this petition if you believe that eating disorder treatment needs to change… If you agree that working side by side, patients, family and treatment teams could start to turn eating disorder statistics around.
To read the eating disorder treatment experiences of individuals from around the world, please visit:
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