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Rogers' Specialists Emphasize Importance of Intervening Early, Providing Multi-Modal Treatment for Eating Disorders
By: PR Newswire
Feb. 11, 2013 01:08 PM
OCONOMOWOC, Wis., Feb. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Eating disorders (EDs) are occurring at an alarming rate in the United States. In fact, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) indicates up to 24 million people of all ages – both male and female – suffer from an ED. Often manifesting in adolescence, EDs may go untreated for years until a life-threatening episode occurs. That's why Dr. Tracey Cornella-Carlson, a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist at Rogers Memorial Hospital, says the earlier the treatment, the better.
"If we can see patients early on in their illness," Dr. Cornella-Carlson said, "then we can help them recover more successfully. Plus, the more intensive the treatment, the more effective and successful the outcome will be." As the medical director of Rogers' child and adolescent eating disorder services, Dr. Cornella-Carlson (or Dr. CC, as patients call her), sees that importance firsthand.
EDs currently have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, yet only 1 in 10 receives treatment. In addition, less than half receive care by a specialized facility equipped to provide effective treatment. That's critical because death from anorexia is 12 times higher than the rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old. What's more, boys are at risk too. In fact, a recent post by Technorati indicated that EDs among the male population are on the rise. Since they are complex diseases that can result from many contributing factors, EDs cannot be cured by willpower alone. That's why a specialized treatment program that utilizes many kinds of therapy is so important.
"We often see co-existing disorders," Dr. CC explained. "Intensive treatment provides the opportunity to identify other factors such as depression and anxiety that may have triggered or perpetuated the ED, which helps to provide proper, effective treatment. A residential program, like what we offer in Rogers' Eating Disorder Center, can often provide the best treatment for all the disorders, helping to resolve the ED." She added that those who suffer from EDs develop irrational thinking. That's why it's important to treat children and adolescents before those thoughts become too entrenched, affecting behavior and creating unhealthy habits.
Quality, Intensive Treatment Leads to Recovery
Grasso was admitted to a partial hospitalization program for several months and began seeing an ED specialist in Cleveland. She was so medically compromised that her physician and treatment providers literally saved her life. "I made great progress," she said, "but after almost 10 years of battling anorexia, it was not enough." She returned to school and relapsed almost immediately, then found herself back in that program for another few months. When she returned to school, she was unable to sustain her recovery. At the urging of her treatment providers, she was admitted to Rogers, where she stayed from June to August at 22 years of age.
"After several previously unsuccessful treatments, I was admitted to Rogers' Eating Disorder Center," she said. "It was a sobering experience, seeing in other patients what I was unable to see in myself. It made the disease very real and helped me to realize the true horror of an ED. By the time I got to Rogers, I had battled anorexia for almost a decade and prior treatments had only briefly interrupted my symptoms. I felt hopeless and honestly believed the disease was bound to kill me. Different treatment approaches work for different people, but I know the work I did at Rogers was lifesaving."
A Means for Control
During high school, changes occurred quickly and she felt completely out of control. "I decided that one thing I could control was me. With each pound I lost, I would feel more power and more in control." Lavey was starving herself and didn't know it, but others suspected. She, too, began hearing the rumors.
"I just felt that wasn't who I was," Lavey said. "I couldn't have anorexia!" As a senior, though, she finally admitted it and went to Rogers for the first time. She was in inpatient hospitalization and felt she knew all the answers and what they wanted, so she performed accordingly. When she convinced others she should be in partial treatment, she made efforts to offset the weight she thought she was gaining.
"The voice in my head was insidious," she said. "I was afraid anything would make me fat." So she would wear layers and layers of clothes to bed to sweat off the extra weight. She would chew and spit out her food, obsessively exercise and manipulate the outcome however she could. Around Halloween that year, she was released at 100 pounds but went down to 73 pounds by Thanksgiving. Before meetings with her dietitian, she drank 80 ounces of water so she could gain five pounds and wear soda bottles filled with water and weights under her clothes so she would appear heavier. Finally, at the start of December, she realized she needed help. She was admitted in a local hospital's oncology ward to get medically stabilized before participating in Rogers' program. Once stable, she was admitted to Rogers' inpatient eating disorder hospitalization for about a month, then was stepped down to the residential program in the Eating Disorder Center where she stayed for two months.
"I was really upset and angry about that at first," she said, "but looking back, I know it was the right choice. It was there I was able to learn more of the coping skills I needed to monitor my disease and stay on track. Now, I'm grateful my physician was insistent on the residential treatment. Once I started to open up and became honest, it was much easier physically and mentally. Treatment gives you the skills you need, but you still have to apply them."
Hope for Recovery
Lavey now realizes there wasn't a single cause for her disease, but a series of events she could not cope with. She even gave a presentation on learning to accept yourself for an Active Minds' Speak Out-Reach Out program intended to build awareness of mental illness among college students. "Now, I know the only person I need to please is me," she said, "and I'm accountable. People who know me recognize when I'm not doing well. As much as you want to believe you're in control of the disease, it controls you if you don't have the right skills to cut it off. People deserve a real shot at life, and treatment gives you that shot. Rogers gave me the tools."
Both stress the importance of seeking treatment and building awareness of the disease. "Mental illness can affect anyone," Lavey said, "but having an ED doesn't necessarily mean you're totally incapacitated or crazy. You can actually appear to be carrying on with life."
Grasso agreed. "There are so many stereotypes that perpetuate the struggles for those who suffer," she said. "EDs manifest in all shapes and sizes and are far from chic. Premature aging, hair loss, infertility, feeding tubes... they are destructive, maddening and deeply painful, both emotionally and physically. There is no lonelier place than an ED."
Specialized Treatment for Children and Adolescents
Rogers Memorial Hospital is currently ranked #7 in the country for mental health services and is a key corporation of Rogers Behavioral Health System, which also includes: Rogers Memorial Hospital Foundation, Inc.; Rogers Partners in Behavioral Health, LLC; Rogers Center for Research and Training; and Rogers InHealth. The hospital has become nationally recognized for its specialized residential treatment services and affiliations with academic institutions and teaching hospitals in the area. Rogers Memorial Hospital is currently Wisconsin's largest not-for-profit, private behavioral health hospital, providing adults, children and adolescents with treatment for eating disorders, chemical dependency, obsessive-compulsive and anxiety disorders, as well as a variety of child and adolescent mental health concerns. For more information, please visit www.rogershospital.org.
SOURCE Rogers Memorial Hospital
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