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Getting help for an Eating Disorder

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

It can feel overwhelming to take the first steps in eating disorder treatment, and we can struggle with a whole range of emotions. It's not uncommon to feel anxious, embarrassed, scared, ashamed or a whole range of other emotions.

However, getting help is important. It can be a real struggle to overcome an eating disorder on your own, so having a supportive team around you is truly beneficial to your recovery. You GP is often your first point of contact. They are often the one's do diagnose the eating disorder and then provide referrals to other health care team members. Diagnosis can seem scary, but it does allow you to access additional help, so it can be worth going through the process (it's pretty quick!).

As everyone is different, it's important to know that some treatment options will help some people more than others. Similarly, you may gel with some practitioners better than others. It's a good idea to explore all your options, and don't be afraid to trial a few options to find the treatment options and practitioners that suit you best. Often, it is a combination of treatments which helps you the most on your recovery journey, and you will be involved with multiple practitioners as part of a multidisciplinary team.

This team includes a Dietitian (that's what we do), a Psychologist and possibly Psychiatrist, and perhaps family therapy. So let's talk about what all these people do.

The Dietitian assists in nutritional management. Dietitians are specifically trained to ensure people are getting the nutrients that they need, and to help people develop normal eating patterns. We work on helping you normalise your eating habits and behaviours. Here at Habits for Health, we work with you on an individual basis, tailoring your care to your situation and needs. We understand that eating disorder recovery is not always a linear process, and flexibly help you work through all stages of your recovery. Our eating disorder Dietitians have undertaken additional training to support with people living with eating disorders, and some have lived experience with eating disorders themselves, so they understand the recovery journey.

A Psychologist, Counsellor, or Therapist works with you to challenge the thoughts, emotions and behaviours which are driving the eating disorder, as well as any other concerns you have. You might have heard of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) or one of the many other models of psychological care used to challenge your thought patterns and help you create healthier ways of thinking and coping.

As part of this, you may also be involved in family therapy. This is commonly used for children, adolescents and young adults who are struggling with an eating disorder. This type of therapy engages the whole support network for that individual. The aim is to provide treatment for the person with an eating disorder, while also supporting the family or network to provide appropriate care for this individual. Sometimes family dynamics are supported and strengthened as part of this process.

Medication may be offered. This discussion may happen with a GP or a Psychiatrist. In particular, people who have an eating disorder alongside another mental health condition are more likely to require medication. Remember - this is no shame in needing medication. Just like other conditions where medication is required, like insulin for people living with type 1 diabetes, sometimes we need medication to support our mental health.

So, now you know the people involved in your care team, what's next?

Well, if you haven't already, book in to chat with your GP about organising your care team. When you're ready, we're ready to help you with the nutrition aspects of your condition. Book in online here, or call us on 0422 480 159.

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