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When caring for an adolescent suffering with an eating disorder for any length of time, you soon realize how invaluable earlier diagnosis and treatment become in making purposeful and healthy strides forward, as well as any necessary changes and re-strategizing needed to better support a loved ones recovery process.
And while there is a better knowledge base available regarding eating disorders today, studies and research of “what works” and “what doesn’t” in the real day to day of those living with this illness, and how to better train, educate and provide for those treatment services are still slowly surfacing.
Dr James Lock, whom many a parent are familiar with from his work and book: Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder is spearheading one of the Largest-Ever Bulimia Study involving adolescents suffering from bulimia through Stanford University:
…psychiatrists at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of Chicago are seeking volunteers for the largest-ever randomized controlled trial of bulimia treatments for adolescents.
Only two small randomized trials have previously been done in this age group. “We desperately need more information,” said James Lock, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford and the study’s senior investigator. Lock is also director of psychiatric services at the Comprehensive Eating Disorders Program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.
Prior bulimia-treatment trials focused on adult patients, Lock said, which is why the National Institute of Mental Health awarded his team a five-year, $2 million grant to compare bulimia treatments for young people. Full-blown bulimia affects 1 to 2 percent of adolescents, and another 2 to 3 percent display significant bulimic behaviors, Lock noted. Female patients outnumber males by five to one, he said.
The team will study three treatments that may help adolescent bulimics. Study subjects will be randomly assigned to receive 20 outpatient consultations using cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy or individual psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is widely recognized as the preferred bulimia treatment for adults, whereas family therapy is used in teens with anorexia nervosa. Individual psychotherapy has succeeded as an alternate treatment for bulimic adults and adolescents.
Interested individuals should contact research assistant Brittany Alvy at (650) 723-9182.
The pathology Lock hopes to heal stems from poor body image and an unhealthy focus on rigid dieting. Strict dieting sets up patients for lapses of control—binge-eating episodes. After binge eating on thousands of calories, patients purge with vomiting, laxatives or excessive exercise. They then feel guilty over their loss of control, fueling further negative thoughts and deepening the downward spiral.
Cognitive behavioral therapy works on changing patients’ behaviors and thinking patterns related to food and to body image. The therapist aims to help the patient stop thoughts that overemphasize the importance of weight and shape and end severe, destructive dieting. Family therapy focuses solely on eating behaviors.
The patient’s parents are involved in every therapy session, and the underlying goal is to change the home environment so that it reinforces healthy eating and discourages dieting. “In this treatment, we see parents as a resource to facilitate behavioral change,” Lock said. Individualized psychotherapy, rather than targeting eating, examines underlying life problems that contribute to negative self-image.
“We hope early intervention will become a chronic, long-lasting strategy,” Lock said. Instead of treating bulimia in adulthood, “after the horse is out of the barn,” early treatment has a better shot at causing a lasting cure, he added.
About Stanford University Medical Center Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions — Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. For more information, please visit the Web site of the medical center’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs at http://mednews.stanford.edu/.
About Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Ranked as one of the best pediatric hospitals in the nation by U.S.News & World Report and Child magazine, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford is a 272-bed hospital devoted to the care of children and expectant mothers. Providing pediatric and obstetric medical and surgical services and associated with the Stanford University School of Medicine, Packard Children’s offers patients locally, regionally and nationally the full range of health care programs and services — from preventive and routine care to the diagnosis and treatment of serious illness and injury. For more information, visit http://www.lpch.org/.
Interesting use of metaphor…
are you taking care of your Earth Suit— I hope so!
– Bonne Nuit
There are few individuals who truly rise to a level of integrity, experience, commitment and compassion when it comes to researching and treating eating disorders that I can honestly say are worthy of note, let alone far too few dedicated and wisely seasoned clinicians available for sufferers and families assisting and caring for loved ones to have equal and affordable access to. Dr Daniel le Grange at the University of Chicago is most certainly one of those individuals.
For parents who have younger children or adolescents suffering with an eating disorder you are probably already aware how vital early diagnosis and intervention are to restoring your child’s health. Many families and parents are unfortunately still treated as the “problem” or blamed/shamed into believing that they “caused” their child’s eating disorder, and sometimes, worse yet, doctors don’t even take seriously the early warning signs of eating disordered behaviors as well as weight loss in younger patients and dismiss the parents concerns despite the “highest concentration of most sufferers of Anorexia Nervosa being in the adolescent female population”– time is not on anyone’s side when you delay diagnosis and immediate treatment.
And treatment programs along with many clinicians still leave the family aside and ignored vs being utilized as a vital resource in assisiting and collaborating within helping their child recover, and working with as well as healing the entire family unit. This makes many of us parents quite irate since we know our children best and were the first to have noticed the drastic changes in our child’s behavior, took initiative in researching treatment options/providers, and then continue to take action, resources and advocate for our children while waiting for many in the medical community and insurance industry to finally wake up and begin implementing true evidence-based treatment strategies that work instead of constantly reinventing the wheel, over and over…
Parents, Families/Partners and Caregivers of Children and Adolescents suffering with this illness please take heart, find continued reassurance, and be re inspired by reading Dr le Grange and Dr Loeb’s Early Intervention in Eating Disorders as well as Dr le Grange’s Treatment Model for Eating Disorders in Children & Adolescents :
- Parents are a RESOURCE in helping the adolescent
- Most parents CAN help the adolescent
- Parents have SKILLS to bring to treatment
- Therapist leverages parental skills and relationships to bring about change
- FBT-Family Based Therapy is the only evidence-based treatment shown to be efficacious and cost effective
On the Centre for Excellence in Eating Disorders (CEED) website, where if you are an Australian native they are also providing FBT and eating disorder treatment study for families free for participants, which they did here in the states at the University of Chicago a few years back.
Some day Eating Disorder Treatment will be this good everywhere — until then, keep fighting the good fight and don’t give up!
Some incredible individuals and parent advocates have been hard at work the past two days in Washington working with legislators on Capital Hill for the annual Eating Disorders Coalition Lobby Day to push forth further measures and legislation in the continuation to further progress within treatment, research, prevention and education of eating disorders.
This is vital and necessary work. I for one am so very grateful, since I was not able to attend, for all of these individuals who have committed themselves towards improving the lives of those affected by this devastating illness and the families that are doing so much of this work solo, without much support, treatment resources, and clinicians adequately trained to best help their loves ones.
Thank you EDC and its sponsors, Ms Laura Collins— you are the best!
The news of UNC’s study has been bustling about, but it’s worth posting this fine gem of a quote from senior author and director of UNC’s Eating Disorders Program, Dr Cynthia Bulik: “even a nugget of accurate biological information can influence how health care professionals preceive the illness” -and similarly can change the perceptions of others as well.
Nuggets of Information- Boulders of Truth… “POW!”