Eating Disorder Treatment Malaysia

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Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions, in every form they take. All young people with eating problems deserve and require professional care and support.

The Wave Clinic offers specialist eating disorder treatment for young people from our residential facilities, surrounded by beautiful Malaysian scenery. Our treatment programs address the underlying causes of eating disorders while supporting young people to grow into their powerful, authentic selves.

What Are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are eating problems that have a big impact on the lives of young people. Eating problems can manifest and express themselves in lots of different ways. This may include:

  • Being scared of weight gain
  • Wanting to control how much you eat
  • Using food to cope with difficult emotions
  • Wanting to get rid of food from your body
  • Feeling unable to stop yourself from eating

If a young person’s relationship with food is having a significant effect on their day-to-day life and persists for some time, a doctor may diagnose them with an eating disorder. However, sometimes receiving an accurate diagnosis is difficult. It’s important to remember that even without a diagnosis, young people with eating problems require care and support.

What Are the Different Types of Eating Disorders?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists several different types of eating disorders. Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and unspecified/specified other feeding or eating disorder. Each disorder has a specific set of diagnostic criteria.

Anorexia Nervosa

Young people with anorexia nervosa usually want to lose weight or maintain a low body weight. They may do this by controlling their eating or through excessive exercise. Individuals with anorexia nervosa also have misconceptions about their body shape and size and think they are larger than they are.

Anorexia nervosa is a serious and dangerous mental health condition with the highest death rate of any mental disorder.

Bulimia Nervosa

Young people with bulimia nervosa usually experience cycles of binging and purging. Binging is when you eat a lot of food in a small amount of time. While it’s normal for anyone to eat a lot sometimes, binge eating is normally quite distressing and accompanied by feelings of loss of control. Young people often binge eat to deal with difficult emotions.

After binge eating, someone with bulimia may purge to prevent weight gain or regain a sense of control. Purging may involve self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, or using laxatives. While binging and purging may offer temporary relief from certain emotions, bulimia can seriously damage the body. It’s important for young people to have the support they need to develop healthy and sustainable coping mechanisms.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is when someone regularly eats a lot of food in a short amount of time and feels like they can’t stop. Young people with the disorder often feel shame or embarrassment about binge eating which can cause serious emotional distress.

Many young people binge eat to deal with difficult emotions such as stress or low self-esteem. However, binge eating doesn’t offer long-term solutions to these issues and may make them worse. Professional support can help young people with binge eating disorders develop alternative coping mechanisms that support their mental and physical health.

Other Specified or Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder

Some young people have serious eating problems but do not seem to fit into any of the above categories. In these cases, a doctor may give them a diagnosis of other specified or unspecified eating or feeding disorder.

Other Eating Disorders

Some other eating disorders included in the DSM-5 are:

  • Pica
  • Rumination Disorder
  • Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
  • Muscle Dysmorphia
  • Orthorexia Nervosa (ON)

How Can You Treat Eating Disorders?

Most young people find it very hard to recover from an eating disorder on their own. If you think your child may have an eating disorder, it’s important that they receive professional support as soon as possible. The sooner they start treatment, the easier the recovery process will be.

There are currently several evidence-based treatment options available for eating disorders, proven to support lasting recovery. These include:

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy
  • Family interventions
  • Nutrition education

Every young person is different and one may require a different combination of approaches than another. At the start of the treatment process, a mental health expert will work with them to assess their needs and determine the best options for them.

Cognitive-behavioural Therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy is a type of talk therapy that focuses on the interactions between our thoughts and behaviours. During CBT sessions, a young person will work with their therapist to identify negative thinking and behavioural patterns and turn them into more positive ones. CBT is the leading evidence-based treatment for bulimia nervosa.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy programs usually take a transdiagnostic approach, built on the premise that all eating disorders share a common psychopathology of overvaluation of shape and weight. They offer a treatment plan that doctors can use for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and other eating disorders.

CBT for eating disorders involves several different stages and techniques. These include:

  • following regular eating patterns, which may improve their physical health and psychological relationship with food.
  • self-monitoring to identify the thoughts and emotions that may underlie disordered eating behaviours.
  • learning about eating disorders, their causes, and their consequences.
  • addressing the underlying causes of eating disorders, including overvaluation of shape and weight, perfectionism, interpersonal issues, and low self-esteem.

CBT courses can be inpatient or outpatient. In general, inpatient settings are necessary for people with a current low body weight who may require medical treatment. Young people who begin in outpatient settings may move to inpatient care if they show continuing weight loss.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Interpersonal psychotherapy is an established, evidence-based treatment for eating disorders that involve binge eating, including binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa.

Some young people’s eating problems are driven, in part, by interpersonal issues. Conflicts with friends and family can lower self-esteem and lead to emotional distress that triggers binge eating episodes. At the same time, social withdrawal and isolation can take young people away from the normalising influence of their peers, leaving harmful psychopathologies unchallenged.

Interpersonal psychotherapy helps to resolve these underlying issues, addressing the thoughts and behaviour patterns that drive their eating disorder and promoting meaningful recovery.

The Wave Clinic, Malaysia: Lasting Recovery from Eating Disorders

The Wave Clinic is a specialist treatment centre in Malaysia that supports young people living with eating disorders, trauma, mental health issues, and addiction. Our transformative programs provide exceptional clinical care with a gap-year experience, helping young people recover from mental illness and rediscover their dreams. At The Wave, young people reconnect with their inner selves and their goals – and develop the skills to get there.

We understand that it can be hard when your child is in someone else’s care. We make sure that parents (including chosen parents) are fully included in the treatment process and regularly updated on their child’s progress. When appropriate, we involve the whole family in treatment modalities such as family therapy and other interventions.

If you think your child may be living with an eating disorder, contact us today. At The Wave, they’ll receive the specialist and individualised treatment they deserve.

Fiona - The Wave Clinic

Fiona Yassin is the founder and clinical director at The Wave Clinic. She is a U.K. and International registered Psychotherapist and Accredited Clinical Supervisor (U.K. and UNCG).

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