Do you have an eating disorder or know of someone who does have an eating disorder? Are you unsure on what type of treatment approaches are available or would be the best for eating disorders? To help understand the life impact of an eating disorder and treatment approaches for eating disorders, I have interviewed therapist Rhonda Kildea .
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a therapist that specializes in eating disorders. I have been working in this field for about 10 years. I started off getting a job at an inpatient treatment center in Wickenburg, AZ and that is what sparked my interest in eating disorders. I then moved to Las Vegas with my husband and started a private practice. I also began work on a certification as an eating disorders specialist, which I finished 3 years ago. I now supervise interns and therapists in training.”
What are some symptoms of an eating disorder?
“Basically, an eating disorder is a way of coping with emotion by focusing on the body, food and weight. People who struggle with anorexia struggle with an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though they are underweight. People who struggle with bulimia have recurrent episodes of binge eating which is followed by some sort of compensatory or purging behavior. Bingeing and purging becomes a way to focus on food and the body instead of focusing on or dealing with the things in their life that feel out of control. Eating or not eating becomes a way to control uncomfortable emotions.”
What type of impact can an eating disorder have on a person’s overall life?
“An eating disorder can affect every area of a person’s life. It can affect their emotional and psychological well being, because if they are not dealing with their emotions as they come up, they are not learning how to cope with things. It can affect their physical well being as well. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any other psychiatric disorder, including major depression. This is because people die from purging, they die if their heart stops from a lack of nutrients, and basically the body begins to cannibalize itself if it is not getting the proper nutrients.”
What types of treatment approaches are available for someone who has an eating disorder?
“A treatment team approach is always recommended when dealing with an eating disorder. At the least, a patient needs a therapist and a dietitian. The therapist helps the client face and deal with their emotions; the dietitian helps the patient figure out what they are going to eat. Other helpful members of the treatment team are a group of therapist; a psychiatrist if there is comorbid psychological issues that could use medications, and a medical doctor to monitor physical complications of the eating disorder. Many times, however, patients need a higher level of care than what outpatient treatment can offer. This is because an eating disorder is much more complicated than the average addiction. Because you can’t stop eating, you have to develop a new relationship with food. This is when we look at inpatient treatment as an option. I recommend several inpatient treatment centers across the country. The length of stay averages around 60 days or longer depending on the severity of the illness. i.e. how underweight the patient is, or the frequency or duration of the purging symptoms.”
What advice would you like to leave for someone who has an eating disorder?
“That recovery is possible. A full life can be lived without the battle with the eating disorder. It is doable. Keep fighting. Never give up. If you don’t feel like you “click” with your therapist, keep looking for one who specializes in eating disorders and understands the complexities of the disorder. Don’t just work with a therapist, but a dietitian as well. Talk about it. Find a good support system.”
Thank you Rhonda for doing the interview on treatment approaches for eating disorders. For more information about Rhonda Kildea or her work you can check out her website on www.help-me-rhonda.net and www.nhccclv.com.
Bulimia Nervosa: Symptoms and Treatment
Eating Disorders: Questions and Answers
Understanding Anorexia Nervosa