Treatment isn’t a cure-all for eating disorders. It provides the tools that individuals living with eating disorders need to establish healthy lifestyles, adjust negative thought patterns, and tune behaviors. However, people in eating disorder treatment need to understand that treatment only provides the tools – it doesn’t erase the work that’s needed beyond treatment to establish a healthy life of mental wellbeing. That’s why it’s so important for people in eating disorder treatment to learn about and implement methods to prevent eating disorder relapse.
The Need for Relapse Prevention During Eating Disorder Treatment
Unfortunately, many people that get professional help for eating disorders through treatment do end up relapsing. Relapse is when a person who’s struggling with a mental health issue, like eating disorders, reverts back to self-harmful behaviors that were portrayed before treatment began. Thus, bringing the dangers of eating disorders back into the lives of people who have completed treatment.
Sadly, relapse is very common for people who get help for eating disorders through treatment. According to research published by the National Library of Medicine, people who recieve treatment for Anorexia Nervosa experience relapse at a rate between 35 and 41% in a period of 18 months prior to treatment. Due to the severe risk of relapse after eating disorder treatment, there is a identifiable need to incorperate relapse prevetion education and stratigies within treatment in order to provide people with the tools they need to maintain active recovery.
Some of the things people can learn during treatment in order to reduce the risk of relapse can include:
Learning to Pinpoint Relapse Triggers
Relapse triggers are anything that can lead to a spiraling of behaviors that can lead to relapse. Different people in eating diosrder recovery will have different relapse triggers as these are determined by different factors including diagnosed eating disorders, history, concurring mental health issues, symptoms, and more. Being able to identify what may trigger a relapse in one’s own life can help a person to avoid relapse triggers. Certain triggers can include social situations, social media, conversations about weight and dieting, etc. Once triggers are identified, individuals can utilize relapse coping strategies in order to overcome triggers and avoid them if possible.
Creating and Maintaining a Support System
Support is crucial for people in recovery for mental health issues including eating disorders. Having people to count on as a listening ear or for advice can be extremely helpful in times that recovery is in jeopardy. For example, if a person is dealing with facing a relapse trigger, they can reach out to their supportive network in order to gain perspective, motivation, comfort and support. Support can come from peers that you meet in treatment, therapists, friends, family, and anyone else who is encouraging of your recovery journey.
Take Care of Yourself
Self-care can be a great asset for preventing relapse. When we take care of our mental health by participating in self-care activities, we are more likely to be able to overcome relapse triggers that we face. Some examples of self-care include meditation, getting out into nature, exercising, eating nutritious foods, yoga, mindfulness practices, journaling, and breathing exercises.
Getting Treatment for Eating Disorders After a Relapse
Are you struggling with slipping back into disordered eating patterns? If so, Willow Place for Women can help. We offer outpatient treatment and therapy services for women struggling with eating disorders. Find out about our outpatient services from our website today.