online conference transcript
Kathleen Young Psy.D., our guest, has fifteen years of experience treating eating disorders. She has studied and helped many with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and compulsive eating. Here, Dr. Young discuss recovery from anorexia, treatment of eating disorders, eating disorder relapses and shifting between being anorexic and bulimic.
David Roberts is the HealthyPlace.com moderator.
The people in blue are audience members.
David: Good Evening. I'm David Roberts, the moderator for tonight's conference. I want to welcome everyone to HealthyPlace.com. Our topic tonight is "Treating Anorexia: The Recovery Process."
Our guest is Kathleen Young, Psy.D., who has fifteen years of experience treating those with with anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive eating. She is located in Chicago, Ill. Besides obtaining her Doctorate in psychology, Dr. Young received additional training in the treatment of eating disorders at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the University of Arizona's Medical Center.
Good evening, Dr. Young and welcome to HealthyPlace.com. We appreciate you being our guest tonight. Many people talk about wanting to stop being anorexic, yet they find it extremely difficult to accomplish that. Why is that?
Dr. Young: Hi everyone! It's great to be here. That's a good question. I think its important to remember that anorexia is a complex disorder and that it begins as an attempt to cope with, or manage, some circumstances and feelings in the individual's life.
David: Just so we are all on the same page here, when you use the word "recovery," what do you mean by that?
Dr. Young: I think of it as having two components, the surface or behavioral level of working towards a healthy relationship with food, and the underlying issues such as feelings, personal issues, and self-esteem for example. We can't just focus on the food or eating behavior.
David: Are there cases that you can think of, where it would be impossible that a person could recover?
Dr. Young: I would never want to think that in advance! I believe that recovery from anorexia nervosa is possible, even if only to some extent. It is ultimately up to the individual.
David: What does it take, inside the person, to bring about a significant recovery?
Dr. Young: It often takes first getting to the point of being sick and miserable with how things are. It often takes the motivation of pain to make us want to change! It also takes perseverance and patience with what can be a long process, as well as, the willingness to let go of rigid ideas about weight or food. However, the last happens gradually with a lot of support.
David: We have some audience questions, Dr. Young, and then we'll continue with our conversation:
Lexievalle: How do we acquire a support system for recovery?
Dr. Young:That is very important, Lexievalle. Without support from others, it can be harder to give up the comfort of the old behaviors. The first step is getting an experienced therapist. There are also many free support groups in most areas, such as ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders). The internet can also be a source, as we see here :)
brewnetty:Recovery is being able to eat without fear, right?
Dr. Young: Brewnetty, that's a great way to put it! Often anorexics become very afraid of food. It can seem like the enemy, rather than a part of healthy self care. I would also add the ability to value yourself for aspects beyond weight and appearance.
David: One of the things I would like you to clarify, because we get emails that go something like this: "I'm hardly eating or eating very light meals. I'm always concerned about food, but I don't weigh 78 pounds. Am I still anorexic?" Could you answer that question, please?
Dr. Young: Yes, I hear that a lot too. "I'm not thin enough to have a problem." Anorexia does not require any specific weight. It is diagnosed by:
- the drive for thinness
- pattern of restricting
- weight loss
- loss of menstrual period
However, you still may have an eating problem even if you do not meet all the criteria. If it takes up a lot of your time, and energy, and makes you unhappy, it is a problem.