Investigating Treatment Barriers to Those with Eating Disorders



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9% of the United States population will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. Diagnoses range from Anorexia Nervosa, which is classified by severe intake restriction and fear of gaining weight, to Binge Eating Disorder, which includes episodes of loss of control around food resulting in binges of thousands of calories. It should also be known that eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses, coming second to opioid overdose. Adequate treatment significantly decreases the mortality rate of these mental illnesses; however, many do not receive the treatment they need. Treatment ranges from outpatient services under the care of dieticians, therapists, and psychiatrists to inpatient or residential care which requires medical stabilization and around-the-clock care. Barriers to treatment can be systematic. For example, if one does not have adequate insurance, they may never receive a diagnosis, and if they do, treatment may not be covered. Also, the nature of the eating disorder itself may pose a barrier as there is often a lot of shame and guilt surrounding the illness that may drive one to not seek treatment. Cultural differences also may prevent one from getting adequate treatment as mental illness is heavily stigmatized in many communities so one may rely on friends and family instead of professional support. The goal of this project is to investigate these barriers in the hopes of not only raising awareness for eating disorders but also opening the door for the creation of solutions to these barriers.