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The Controversy of Eating Disorder Forced Therapy

An eating disorder is a condition that causes people to overeat or avoid food altogether because of a distorted body image. Examples of eating disorders include bulimia, anorexia and binge eating disorder. These illnesses are treatable, but without help from a physician or eating disorder therapist, eating disorders can lead to very serious health problems and may even be fatal. Because of the seriousness of these illnesses, medical professionals may recommend forced therapy for patients who don’t wish to recover from their eating disorders.

Involuntary Treatment of Eating Disorders

 As an eating disorder progresses, it may become life-threatening. When it reaches this point, family members and the eating disorder therapist may wish to attempt forced therapy. The patient may be severely malnourished to the point that the body can barely support life. It’s a controversial issue, because medical professionals are faced with a patient who may die without treatment, but also may be concerned that they could face legal issues if treatment were done against a patient’s will. On the other hand, medical professionals are committed to saving lives and may be concerned about letting a patient leave the hospital if he or she is medically unstable.

Recovering From Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is a progressive illness, and some patients will not seek treatment unless they are committed to a program on an involuntary basis. When a patient is this ill, family members often don’t see that there is any choice other than to initiate commitment to an eating disorder program on an involuntary basis. Recovering from an eating disorder involves restoring a healthy weight and treating underlying psychological problems with medication and psychotherapy. An eating disorder therapist is specially trained in treating the underlying causes of eating disorders and can help a patient establish healthy eating habits. Treatment for eating disorders is most effective when a patient is ready to change unhealthy behaviors, but many patients who go through involuntary treatment later recognize that it was needed and are able to recover from eating disorders. Resources  PubMed: Involuntary Treatment of Eating Disorders National Institute of Mental Health: Eating Disorders: About More Than Food

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