We live in a super fast society where we expect results immediately and thrive on instant gratification. From get rich quick plans and rapid weight loss diets to instant romantic relationships and successful overnight eating disorder treatment strategies; it seems that everyone desires the perfect outcome without wanting to patiently put in the work.  The same holds true for eating disorder treatment, a long hard journey that may take years to overcome and conquer. Eating disorder treatment requires patience and a lot of work and there is no “magic pill” that can be taken to cure an eating disorder. Research has shown multiple factors that can work for or against eating disorder recovery and can differentiate those who fully recover and those who relapse over and over.

Support after treatment

Eating disorder treatment does not end after the official treatment ends. Recovery is a lifelong journey and many individuals will relapse. It is important to have a good support system consisting of friends and family is imperative in order to be successful in this journey. Additionally, attending group support sessions and/or individual therapy sessions can also aid in your successful recovery. Practicing coping skills and having an action plan in case relapse does occur is also important in order to prevent any further damage. Being prepared and cognizant ahead of time can help an individual be successful in recover after they complete their treatment program.

Treatment method

Studies have shown that purely addressing an individual’s eating habits or psychological state is not enough to bolster successful and prolonged recovery. The disorder is multifaceted. Therefore, the treatment should be as well. Individuals with eating disorders often have underlying triggers or co-occurring disorders that need to be addressed in a professional manner. An eating disorder treatment team should include therapists, nutritionists, nurses and physicians who all have experience in treating eating disorders and mental health illnesses. The therapy should be adapted for the individual, not specifically the disorder.

Willpower to change

Individuals who want to change and who make the effort, most likely will. Those who do not believe they have a problem and do not want to change are more likely to relapse and not get better. Individuals who have the willpower and motivation to change are more likely to succeed in treatment and recovery as opposed to those who are simply going through the motions and attending meetings and treatment due to an outside force. Feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness are three qualities an individual should possess that can foster the motivation to change. Autonomy relates to an individual’s feeling of being capable of working toward and achieving, their goals independently. Those that feel competent display an ability to overcome challenges and incorporate what they are learning to their treatment and recovery. Relatedness refers to the individual having a trusted support system.

Social support

An individual’s relationship with their friends is just as important as their relationship with their family. Having a strong friend circle where an individual can share their thoughts and emotions can help not only lower the risk of developing an eating disorder but can also help lower the risk of relapse and treatment failure. Being alone during these times can be detrimental to an individual’s mental health and therefore it is important to foster a strong friend circle.

Family support

Having the support of parents, children, siblings and extended family is one of the most important determining factors of successful eating disorder treatment. Many eating disorder treatment centers offer family therapy and encourage the family to be a crucial part of therapy. Studies have found that family-based therapy improves the recovery rates of adolescents and adults alike