Today, 2.7% of teens struggle with an eating disorder. Eating disorders have become an epidemic, with 20% of all college students claiming to either be currently struggling with an eating disorder or previously struggled with one. While both of these statistics are concerning, the death toll is terrifying. ANAD, an anorexia research group, states that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
If an eating disorder ends up being diagnosed in a child, many parents feel lost as the general consensus is that patients can only heal if they want to be healed and that treatment should not be pursued until the patient chooses it. I believe that only going forward with treatment if the patient wants it is severely dangerous and that parents should look into the Maudsley Approach as a possible treatment option for their child.
The idea that a child must choose to want to get better, or to eat, is a concept that is prevalent but one that is impossible. The brain, while it creates a rich internal world, is still a physical part of the body. The Maudsley Approach, an up and coming treatment for eating disorder, focuses on this idea.
Research backing the Maudsley Approach asserts that since the brain has been malnourished the brain can not rationally make decisions, hence a patient suffering from an eating disorder can not choose recovery. With the Maudsley Approach, parents are encouraged to view food as medicine. The student suffering from anorexia is unable to make rational decisions due to the malnourishment of their brain and will rarely make the decision to begin eating or seek treatment, even if their lives depend on it.
Parents need to take control of the child’s recovery in order to use the Maudsley Approach as a treatment option. The Maudsley Approach has a 95% recovery rate, compared to the 30%-40% success rate found with other treatment options. The Maudsley Approach has been the only treatment option in the history of eating disorder treatments to have such an astounding success rate. This is why it is imperative for parents to test out this method for their child. What makes the Maudsley Approach unique is that, instead of sending the child away to an expensive facility for treatment, the parents are in charge of administering the majority of treatment.
Parents work with a trained psychologist and nutritionist trained in the Maudlsey Approach as they begin the refeeding process, a process that involves feeding the patient until both the body and brain has been fully nourished. The Maudsley Approach puts parents back in control of their child’s life, as they are the ones ensuring that the child is eating all the food needed for recovery. Research has shown that as the patient re-nourishes the brain, many of the eating disorder symptoms and thoughts begin to disappear. The psychologist helps work through any remaining difficulties that remain as refeeding comes to an end.
It is so important that parents realize that this method is out there and that it works. It keeps parents from helplessly watching on the sidelines as their child starves and instead gives them the power to take successfully take control of their child’s diet and life.