Eating Disorder Treatment for College Students

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Help for College Students with Eating Disorders

The college years can be a time when eating disorders develop, return, or worsen in young people. The pressure to excel academically, establish a social life, and maintain appearances can be challenging for any college student, especially those struggling with mental health.

Students silently grappling with an eating disorder may find it hard to admit to themselves, let alone others, that they need help. While it may seem obvious to outsiders that they should seek assistance, anxieties often hold them back. Fear of judgment, concerns about confidentiality, or even the belief that they can handle it independently can deter college students from seeking eating disorder treatment. 

For any student facing this internal struggle, it’s important to know that you deserve help and support. Eating Disorder Solutions is experienced in helping college students overcome eating disorders, and offers customized treatment programs compatible with college schedules. To learn more, contact us online or call 855-808-4213.

What Causes Eating Disorders in College Students?

Eating disorders frequently manifest during the college years, typically between the ages of 18 and 21. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, a significant portion of college students, approximately 10 to 20% of women and 4 to 10% of men grapple with these disorders.

Lauren Reisman, Clinical Director at Eating Disorder Solutions, highlights that a combination of challenges specific to college life and underlying mental health issues creates an ideal environment for the emergence of eating disorders, with anorexia and bulimia being the most common ones.

Throughout their college journey, students encounter factors that contribute to this perfect storm, including an increased academic workload, a less structured routine, and a heightened emphasis on social interactions with peers. These circumstances can amplify existing anxiety, learning difficulties, and low self-esteem. The transitional nature of college life, marked by significant changes and stressful periods, further elevates the vulnerability to eating disorders in college students.

Among the multitude of influences on college students’ eating habits, the following factors play a role:

  • More independence
  • Limited access to affordable healthy foods
  • Lack of knowledge of nutrition
  • Less participation in organized sports, which leads to less exercise
  • Social factors
  • Busy schedules
  • Lack of parental control/influence over diet

“College life, adjusting to a new social context, and managing independent living can trigger re-emerging anxiety or, in some cases, a new mental illness,” says Bryan Pickryl, COO, at Eating Disorder Solutions. “Many factors can drive a vulnerable individual into an eating disorder if you suffer from anxiety, are in a social environment, or constantly see thin body ideals.”

Although eating disorders are more prevalent in females than males, the prevalence among males has increased over time. The problem affects approximately 10% to 20% of females and approximately 4% to 10% of male college students. College students who experience eating disorders can suffer life-threatening consequences. “The stigma of eating disorders is woefully underreported,” according to Lauren Reisman. “These are not just extreme diets; they are real medical illnesses.”

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Where Do I Start?

You’re not alone in this; reaching out for help is a big step. If you’re going through a tough time, it’s really important to talk to someone you trust. Sharing your feelings about your mental health can be intimidating, but whether it’s a close friend, family member, or a trusted advisor, they can be a source of vital support. They’ll help you figure out what to do next, whether that’s connecting you with healthcare professionals, exploring your options, or just being there to listen and understand. Remember, there’s strength in seeking help, and people care about you.

Get in touch with your university.

Getting in touch with your university’s support systems for mental health is a crucial step on your journey to recovery. Your academic and residential advisors, as well as campus counseling centers, are there to help. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the mental health services offered by your university, like potential class schedule adjustments and on-campus counseling services. You don’t have to go through this alone; a whole support network is waiting to assist you. Don’t hesitate to reach out; it’s a sign of strength, not weakness. 

Put your focus on recovery.

Focusing on eating disorder recovery while in college can be an incredibly challenging decision, as it may feel like you’re leaving behind a pivotal phase of life. The fear of missing out on college experiences, social events, and academic pursuits can be daunting. However, it’s crucial to recognize that prioritizing recovery is not about giving up on your college experience but rather ensuring that you can fully engage with it in a healthier and more meaningful way. A life free from the grip of an eating disorder offers the opportunity for genuine growth, improved well-being, and a more fulfilling college journey. In the end, the journey to recovery is undeniably worth it, as it paves the way for a brighter and more promising future.

Eating Disorder Solutions Can Help You Balance School and Treatment:

At Eating Disorder Solutions, we’ve been able to help many college students get back to their regular schedule by receiving treatment AND being able to focus on their classes simultaneously. In some form or another, the question that arises most often is, “How can I be in treatment and handle all of my classes?”

We offer flexible treatment options for college students with eating disorders.

We understand that everyone’s journey to recovery is different. That’s why we take a flexible approach, offering customized accommodations on a case-by-case basis to ensure you get the right support.

Online classes and computer access:

In addition to your scheduled therapy sessions and meals, you’ll have an hour and a half each day for computer use and online classes. This way, you can keep up with your college work while focusing on your recovery.

Meeting times that work for you:

If your professors or academic commitments require specific meeting times, we’ll work with you to make sure it fits into your schedule. We want you to know you’re not limited to just a few times during the day to handle your academic responsibilities. We’re here to provide the flexibility you need to succeed.

Computer equipment provided:

We offer computers, desktops, and laptops to make your academic engagement as smooth as possible. You can also bring your own laptop if you prefer, but we’ve got you covered with suitable equipment if necessary.

Comfortable workspaces:

We’ve created cozy and quiet spaces where you can concentrate on your academic tasks. You might have your own office or bedroom dedicated to promoting focus and productivity. Your environment matters, and we want to make it as conducive as possible for your success.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders in College

Common signs of eating disorders in college students include:
  • Spending the majority of time thinking about food.
  • Obsession with body image, weight, or appearance.
  • Avoidance of social gatherings or situations involving food.
  • Feeling dizzy, tired, or fatigued.
  • Experiencing GI issues (like constipation or bloating).
  • Spending time planning out meals (and feeling anxious or guilty about diverting from that plan).
  • Frequent use of laxatives or diuretics.
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom after meals (indicative of purging in bulimia).
  • Isolating from loved ones.
  • Acting on behaviors like restricting, binging, purging or obsessive exercise.
  • Cutting out foods or food groups.
  • Labeling foods as healthy or unhealthy.

Consider taking one of our eating disorder quizzes to identify potential warning signs and symptoms. While these quizzes are not diagnostic tools, they can provide valuable insights to help you better understand your situation. If you’ve taken the time to explore these quizzes, it’s a strong indicator that reaching out for help is a step worth considering.

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What We Offer:

Expert clinicians and comprehensive care

Our team of compassionate practitioners provides clients with world-class treatment, including one-on-one treatments with licensed clinicians at the master’s level. We have a low client-to-staff ratio and are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

At Eating Disorder Solutions, we treat eating disorders spanning the entire spectrum, such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and other disordered eating behaviors and body image issues. With a range of services, from residential eating disorder treatment to outpatient programs, we are dedicated to meeting the needs of each individual client. Every step of the way, we offer guidance and support from our team of experienced physicians, nurses, psychiatrists, therapists, dietitians, and recovery coaches.

Location easily accessible from anywhere in the U.S.

Eating Disorder Solutions is centrally located in Weatherford and Dallas, Texas. With two airports – Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field – our center is easily accessible via a direct flight from most parts of the country.

Helpful and healing amenities

Within our homelike setting surrounded by acres of land, you’ll find everything you need to feel safe and comfortable. Well-appointed rooms are furnished with flat-screen TVs and high-quality linens. Our onsite chef prepares healthy and delicious meals with the freshest ingredients to rejuvenate your body, working with our registered dietician. You can participate in guided wellness programs like yoga or enjoy easy and calming hikes on our walking trails. It’s the perfect environment to relax and recover privately and confidentially.

We understand the importance of your academics and how quickly you want to return to your daily routine. Our treatment team will provide the most effective recovery plan and help you develop a re-entry strategy to return to school. We maintain complete confidentiality and can help you recover in a safe, comfortable, and discreet environment.

Start your recovery today.

In the event that treatment is delayed too much, eating disorders can irreversibly damage your future plans and health. Get the professional care you deserve to get your collegiate journey and life back on track. Contact us at 855-808-4213 for a confidential conversation about your situation.

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