It is with growing concern that I have noticed an alarming trend in the emails I receive from people asking for help with young anorexics eating disorder problems. It has become obvious that something is terribly wrong with the normal medical approach to helping these sufferers.

I would like to share with you just some of the pleas for help I get so you can see what I mean.

“Dear Doctor. My daughter is away at university she had a week to go before the end of the term/academic year. Her weight is very low (under 5 stones) and although she has some help (psychiatrist/art therapy/dietician) she is really struggling and desperate for some rest bite and help but the resources available are scarce and a hospital admission initially to a medical ward is what is most likely to happen. Over the years she has had 3 admission to specialist units where she has gained weight over many month only to lose it all once she resumes independent living. She does not believe another hospital admission would really help but to be honest she is getting so ill she may not have a choice”. Janet T.

Here is another email from a desperate mother.

“Dear Doctor
I am a mother who has a 17 year-old daughter suffering from bulimia and anorexia. She is receiving no help whatsoever from our doctor or counseling services here in Northern Ireland. It fact she seems to be getting worse although she is under treatment. I can’t understand what is happening can you help me please”. Pauline M.

I receive many of emails like these from people who just can’t understand why their loved one is finding it so hard to recover even though they are under medical supervision. And I will explain the reasons in a moment but first here is another plea from a grandmother I received.

"Hi Doctor
I hope I am not fussing too much but we are so desperate as my granddaughter is rapidly going downhill with really bad tantrums etc., and is so thin and won’t eat hardly anything, we are all in despair and so scared for her health she continues to lose 2lb every week she has been seeing councilors and the weight loss has increased since then. We cannot understand why she is getting worse, we thought she would get better after seeing a counselor." Andrea R

Another cry for help.

"Dear Doctor
I have just finished speaking to my brother and sister-in-law who are at a crisis point in trying to deal with their young daughter's anorexia. Alice says they are both beyond hell and do not know how to recover the lives of their daughter or themselves. I suspect it is putting immense strain on their marriage as well.

Their 16 year old daughter knows what the condition is doing to her but is powerless to ignore the voices in her head telling her to do the opposite of everything that will help get her better.

She is critically thin and starting to be suicidal. After the phone call I got on line and was lead to you. I do not know how else to help. They are on that dreadful treadmill of Doctors, hospitals and counselors, today they have been told by the doctors to go to her school and sit with her while she eats her lunch!! This is no life." Betty D.

There is a reason why all these people are understandably confused about how to treat young anorexics and it stems from the lack of real understanding of the condition by conventional medical practice in treating eating disorders.

Most eating disorder specialists are highly trained and very competent in trying to look after sufferers, but most of the doctors I have talked to are equally baffled by negative the results they are getting.

One of the main things you have to understand is eating disorders like anorexia are not a logical disease, so you can not treat them with logic as conventional treatment tries to do. An eating disorder is all about feelings and emotions and these are certainly not logical. You can’t counsel a person by pointing out they could die from their disorder: most already know this but still cannot change.

Sitting around just listening to the sufferer talk about how they feel or ask them to describe the feelings they have and expecting the sufferer to know the answer is also ludicrous. Asking them to keep charts on what they eat for weeks is only making them focus on their ED even more and is also a crazy way to deal with the problem.

Getting them involved in group therapy does not work in most cases either. In fact this can cause more problems that it fixes as sufferers can get attached to the group. They make friends with other anorexic sufferers, and then if they get better they asked to leave the group and also all their friends, so they often choose not to get better.

So what is the remedy for the young anorexic sufferers and their families? The best way to beat an eating disorder is by attacking the eating disorder where it lives and that is in the subconscious mind of the sufferer.

By showing the young anorexic sufferer how to stop the voices in their mind from controlling their life and changing their thought patterns to a more positive outlook on life is paramount to their recovery.

To do this you have to reprogram the mind of the sufferer by using positive input. This does not simply mean just trying to think positive about things or telling them that everything is rosy and wonderful, because this does not work either.

What you need is a specific method and set of exercises that are tailor made to change the way the sufferer sees them self and thinks about themselves. They need a treatment method that helps them to defeat the voices in their head which have already lead them down the dark path that is their anorexia.

One of the best places to start finding out about this kind of treatment method is an written by a mother who battled for years to save her daughter’s life from anorexia when all else failed. I have seen the results first hand myself and was very impressed with the high success rate young sufferers of anorexia get by followed this program.

Author's Bio: 

Dr Irina Webster MD is the Director of Women Health Issues Program which covers different areas of Women Health. She is a recognised athority in the eating disorders area. She is an author of many books and a public speaker.