When left untreated, anorexia nervosa symptoms can take a serious toll on mental and physical health, social network stability and wellness overall. The mind and body simply cannot withstand sustained periods of low-calorie intake and ongoing vitamin deficiencies. The brain and organs start to suffer the effects rather quickly, followed by the muscles, such as the heart. Heart failure could result if disordered eating habits continue and care is not acquired at a residential or inpatient eating disorder treatment center.
Even as disordered thoughts and behaviors begin, physical symptoms appear and mental health starts to decline. While trying to cope with their eating disorder symptoms, many people start to withdraw from their social circles. This reduces their support system and ability to use healthy coping skills to get through the challenges ahead.
As the personal costs of untreated eating disorder symptoms add up, quality of life starts to plummet, necessitating an immediate change. With help from inpatient eating disorder treatment, it is possible to reverse these effects and restore the client’s quality of life. Clients and their family members can use this guide to better understand the costs of eating disorder symptoms and how to find residential or inpatient eating disorder treatment near me.
Toll on Mental Health
As people with anorexia nervosa decrease their caloric intake, they may start to feel a decline in their mental health right away. Their symptoms may include difficulties concentrating, irritability and high stress levels. They may have problems regulating their emotions and avoiding outbursts, especially during long periods without adequate food intake.
Anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders can cause mental health conditions to develop over time. The disordered, and often negative thought patterns, that commonly affect people with eating disorders can make them feel depressed and anxious. The symptoms of depression, anxiety and the like can worsen disordered thoughts and behaviors, accelerating the decline of mental and physical health.
While at residential or inpatient treatment centers, clients receive care that helps them fully recover from their eating disorders and manage their mental health. Treatment of all co-occurring disorders helps uncover the mental health conditions, their symptoms and providing coping tools to support those on the path to recovery. This also helps clients in recovery after graduating by ensuring they can effectively manage their mental health through the years.
Physical Health Effects
Every organ, tissue and cell in the body requires the regular intake of calories and nutrients to remain in peak condition. When people with anorexia nervosa limit their food intake, they immediately start to feel the effects of malnutrition. They may experience:
- Stomach pain
As the disordered eating behaviors continue, the body attempts to conserve energy, decreasing core temperatures. Many people with anorexia start to develop a layer of thin downy hair all over their bodies as a result. They may also feel cold constantly and experience swelling of the joints in the hands and feet.
As the metabolic system struggles to keep up without fuel, hormone levels decrease causing a host of additional medical symptoms to develop. A decrease in the production of thyroid hormones, for example, can result in muscle aches, joint pain and itchy skin. The lack of adequate thyroid hormones can also cause symptoms that overlap with eating disorder symptoms, such as dry skin, constipation and fatigue.
Malnutrition can eventually lead to a seriously compromised immune system and a high risk of infections. It can also result in damage to the heart, kidneys and other organs as the body struggles to keep going without fuel.
Development of Disordered Thoughts and Behaviors
People with anorexia nervosa start to develop disordered thought patterns and eating attitudes that trigger their change in behavior. They may slowly start to feel more and more preoccupied with body image concerns, weight loss, food control and exercise as their thought patterns change. Fears about eating certain food groups or having meals with other people tend to occur as well. Many people in need of care at inpatient eating disorder treatment centers develop rituals around what and how they eat. They may switch diets often in search of a new way to control their weight and size or drastically limit their portions.
These fears and negative thoughts center around exercise as well as people with anorexia attempt to control their body weight and size. They may feel a compulsion to exercise and eliminate the bulk of the limited calories they did consume each day. This starves their minds and bodies of nutrients even more, often causing mental and physical symptoms to worsen. The disordered thoughts about food intake, exercise and body image are all interlinked and often far too complicated to resolve without help.
Furthermore, without care at inpatient treatment centers, these concerns tend to grow worse as negative thought patterns take hold. In terms of body image, people with anorexia nervosa cannot always see a realistic depiction of themselves in the mirror or pictures either, worsening their negative self-perceptions. They may zero in on certain aspects of their body shape or size and follow disordered patterns of behavior in an effort to control those perceived flaws.
Unfortunately, not even friends and family can argue the point and help these people see themselves realistically. People with anorexia nervosa often need help at inpatient eating disorder treatment centers to even begin to unravel the perceptions and pressures that led to the development of the disordered thought patterns in the first place. By acquiring professional care, they can challenge the disordered thoughts and replace them with positive and adaptive ways of thinking.
Decline in Social Support
As disordered thoughts and behaviors start to dominate their daily lives, many people with anorexia nervosa start to withdraw from their social circle. They may stop hanging out with their friends or avoid going over to see family as these disordered patterns disrupt their day. Their withdrawal from social activity may also come from a place of guilt or shame over their eating disorder thoughts and behaviors. Co-occurring mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, can make these feelings more intense and worsen the urge to withdraw socially.
Before, during and after inpatient eating disorder treatment, people need to have a strong social support system in place. This helps them stay resilient when faced with challenges, making them better able to choose healthy coping skills over dysfunctional methods. With adequate social support, people are also much better at handling stressful events that may otherwise trigger disordered thoughts and behaviors.
It is for this reason that inpatient treatment centers make family involvement a priority and help their clients build an extensive social network. While at inpatient eating disorder treatment near me, the fully recovered staff focus on creating and hosting effective family programming that makes everyone feel directly involved in the care process. Family members can attend special programming events to learn and support their loved ones in treatment.
Clients at inpatient eating disorder treatment also have opportunities to build strong social ties with their peers. The group therapy sessions bring the eating disorder clients together to work on processing stressful events and building adaptive coping skills. They also give clients a chance to share their stories and offer each other support, which often leads to the building of friendships along the way.
At graduation from inpatient treatment centers, most clients have a solid network of family, friends, and peers to lean on during hard times. These individuals can return to the treatment center for additional support, join community groups and even tap into the power of online communities for extra support.
Impact on Quality of Life
Without acquiring effective inpatient eating disorder treatment near me, many clients start to experience a serious decline in their quality of life. As disordered thoughts and behaviors dominate their lives, they may have little time for anything else. These individuals tend to spend a good portion of their time obsessing about controlling their body size and finding ways to accomplish that goal. They pursue this objective no matter what, even when their mental and physical health decline.
As anorexia nervosa symptoms impact physical and mental health, quality of life tends to plummet. All the symptoms caused by eating disorders and their co-occurring conditions can make living well difficult, especially when compounded by disordered thoughts and behaviors. These symptoms tend to continually worsen, leading to decreases in quality of life over time. Like the disordered patterns, many of the health problems caused by eating disorders cause people to withdraw from social activities altogether.
As social isolation slowly occurs, people with eating disorders tend to feel intensely lonely and lost without anyone to understand their challenges. Their social circle often continues to dwindle. And they also lose out on opportunities to share and celebrate their successes with friends and family. Going without meaningful contact and support can greatly decrease their satisfaction with life, especially through the ups and downs.
When the quality of life starts to decline, and it tends to happen quickly with untreated eating disorders, the best answer is reaching out for help from inpatient eating disorder treatment centers. These treatment centers focus on helping their clients build healthy coping mechanisms to eliminate disordered behaviors. They also help their clients process difficult situations, learn how to regulate their emotions and find ways to mitigate stress using effective therapy approaches.
Understanding How to Start Inpatient Anorexia Treatment
When people start to notice their loved ones need inpatient anorexia treatment, finding help is not all that difficult. They just have to call an inpatient eating disorder treatment center for assistance. Effective inpatient eating disorder treatment centers have admissions specialists on hand to help clients quickly get care from qualified professionals. These specialists collect the information they need to find the right level of care for each client before passing it onto the treatment team.
This team looks over all of the client’s medical information and other important facts to determine how to proceed. They use the info to create a comprehensive care plan for each client before calling them back to discuss the admissions process. People with anorexia nervosa are given a chance to make their admissions appointment at that time to start the care process.
When they arrive at the inpatient eating disorder treatment centers for their admissions appointments, clients receive a full tour and get to meet their care team. The eating disorder treatment professionals help their clients quickly feel accustomed to the center’s layout and schedule.
Treatment center professionals aim to make the entire intake interview and admissions process as comfortable as possible for their clients. They are always available to help people understand how to acquire help and easily move through the process of getting care for anorexia nervosa before complications arise. By getting help, people with eating disorders can minimize the negative effects that occur and restore their health and wellbeing.