Eating disorders — anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and other eating disorders — are often treated successfully. Eating disorder treatments, including medication, psychotherapy and holistic care at inpatient facilities, all tend to demonstrate some success, at least in the short term. But what about relapse? How common is it for people suffering from eating disorders to relapse after completing treatment?
Relapse happens, no matter what type of eating disorder treatment you pursue. It’s part of the process of regaining health, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. It does not indicate that you’re a failure, but it does mean that you have hit a challenge that may require a new treatment approach. Sure, it’s a setback, but understanding the factors that led to your relapse can help you get back on track.
- A 2004 study found that 35% of women diagnosed with anorexia nervosa relapsed within two years of discharge from an inpatient eating disorder treatment facility.
- Binge eating disorder is the most common of the different types of eating disorders, affecting approximately 3.5% of women in the United States, and 2% of men. Anorexia nervosa, while less common, is more lethal. Women diagnosed with anorexia are thought to be 56 times more likely to commit suicide than people who have not been diagnosed with this illness.
- The most successful models for eating disorder treatments treat both the body and mind. Medical issues are addressed, as well as emotional, psychological and lifestyle issues.
- Early intervention is correlated with better treatment outcomes. Eating disorders are on the rise in children, with hospitalizations of children under the age of 12 for eating disorders having increased over 100% from 1999 to 2006.
The statistics are sobering. Eating disorders are extremely serious, sometimes life-threatening, illnesses. Your best insurance against relapse is to focus on your recovery, keeping it fresh and real every day. Stay positive, keep yourself surrounded by positive people, stay connected to your treatment professionals (even if you drop down the frequency of your sessions) and use self-help groups to stay motivated. Some days will be hard, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and discouraged sometimes, but some days will be truly great.