Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious, and sometimes fatal, illnesses that affect approximately seven million women and one million men in the United States. At Gundersen Health System, we treat individuals struggling with this psychologically painful and physically harmful illness and help them regain their health, because recovery is possible.

Do you think that you or someone you care about might be suffering from an eating disorder? Please answer these questions:

  • Would you say that food dominates your life?
  • Do you worry you have lost control over how much you eat?
  • Have you recently lost more than 14 pounds in a three-month period?
  • Do you believe yourself to be fat when others say you are too thin?
  • Do you make yourself sick because you feel uncomfortably full or think you ate too much?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, please consider scheduling an assessment with our treatment team.

Early intervention is a factor that significantly improves the chances of recovery from an eating disorder. For most people, treatment is a frightening step to think about, but suffering silently every day with the torment of an eating disorder is an even more frightening future to consider. Please let us help.

Eating disorders are complex and often require a multi-faceted, comprehensive treatment approach. Treatment begins with a thorough assessment followed by individualized recommendations designed to meet the specific needs of the patient. Several components may be recommended to assist in the recovery from an eating disorder.

Treatment options

  • Individual psychotherapy is provided by licensed therapists who specialize in treating eating disorders. Their job is to help the patient develop a strong and healthy sense of self that is not measured by physical standards. Therapists also assist patients discover the underlying psychological causes of their eating disorder and help patients develop alternative, healthy ways to cope with these issues.
  • Medical nutrition therapy and education are provided by registered dietitians who specialize in treating those with an eating disorder. They assist patients in learning to listen to and respect their body versus manipulating its shape and having a healthy relationship with food.
  • Psychiatric evaluation/management is provided by the psychiatrists of Behavioral Health. Consultations and on-going services are available as needed for each individual.
  • Physical examinations/follow-up supervision (monitoring of symptoms) is a priority in treatment. Our physicians specialize in treating adult and pediatric patients suffering from eating disorders.
  • Family therapy is provided based on the patient's individual needs.
  • Other treatment options include additional assessments, lab testing, etc.

What is treatment like?

    Q. How long would I have to be in treatment to recover from an eating disorder?
    A. It is difficult to give an estimate of time for the duration of treatment as each individual and their eating disorder symptomatology is unique. In general, effective treatment, including stabilization and relapse prevention work, lasts one to two years.

    Q. How effective is the treatment program at Gundersen?
    A. Our program's statistics are similar to the national statistics on the success rate of recovery for those struggling with eating disorders. Specifically, approximately 1/3 of patients fully recover from their eating disorder, 1/3 improve but remain somewhat symptomatic and 1/3 of eating disordered individuals remain ill despite treatment interventions.

    Q. How do I get connected with this program?
    A. You can contact the Assessment & Referral Team (ART) at (608) 775-7991 or (800) 362-9567, ext. 57991.

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