Eating disorders are some of the most frequently diagnosed mental health conditions.\u00a0 Although many people associate them with adolescent and young adult females, they actually impact a much greater demographic.\u00a0 Eating disorder therapists and treatment facilities see a wide range of individuals, including males of various ages and backgrounds, middle-aged women, athletes, and even children. The three primary types of eating disorders listed in the most recent version of the diagnostic manual used by mental health professionals. They are: \tAnorexia nervosa \tBulimia nervosa \tBinge eating disorder In addition to the above diagnoses, there is an additional category known as \u201ceating disorder NOS (not otherwise specified).\u201d This is for individuals who have symptoms that meet the criteria for an eating disorder, but don\u2019t fit one of the above three categories. Each disorder has its own unique set of symptoms, although there are a few areas of overlap.\u00a0 The common thread in all eating disorders is a pathological relationship with food and eating that causes significant problems in one\u2019s life. Even though eating disorders can be very challenging to treat, proper treatment can be very effective.\u00a0 The type of treatment that\u2019s best for you will largely depend on the specific type of eating disorder you have.\u00a0 The particular symptoms you are experiencing will also help determine the best approach.\u00a0 Additionally, if you have any medical issues as a result of your disorder, your treatment regimen will need to address those as well.\u00a0 In some cases, hospitalization or an inpatient treatment program may be necessary. The First Step Toward Treatment If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder (or symptoms and behavior suggest that possibility), it\u2019s important to understand your treatment options.\u00a0 But first things first; you need to be evaluated by a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or clinical social worker.\u00a0 If possible, it\u2019s always best to see someone who specializes in treating eating disorders. Your primary physician can give you a referral for an evaluation if you don\u2019t have someone in mind.\u00a0 If you live in or near a large city, you may also have access to one or more eating disorder treatment facilities.\u00a0 Feel free to contact them for guidance in determining the best course of action to get you on the road to healing.\u00a0 Early treatment is always highly recommended, since eating disorders can lead to serious physical health problems if left untreated. After the Evaluation \u2013 The Treatment Plan Once you\u2019ve been evaluated and it\u2019s been determined that you do have an eating disorder, a treatment plan will be put together.\u00a0 Eating disorders are not something easily \u201cfixed\u201d with a few therapy sessions.\u00a0 For many individuals, learning to manage their disorder and keeping symptoms under control is a long-term process.\u00a0 Being committed for the long haul is crucial to your success. Your treatment plan will be based on a combination of things, including: \tYour treatment goals \tYour physical health and medical needs \tYour resources (including what types of treatment your health insurance covers, if you have insurance coverage) \tThe severity of your symptoms Your treatment plan should be based on a collaborative effort between you and your treatment team.\u00a0 Your team will likely consist of several different health professionals which may include: \tA psychiatrist \tA psychologist or other type of mental health therapist (unless your psychiatrist also does therapy) \tYour primary care doctor \tA registered dietician \tOther medical doctors When it comes to your treatment plan, it\u2019s vital that everyone involved in your care is on the same page and communicating regularly with each other.\u00a0 This can be a bit challenging if you\u2019re not working with a treatment team that is part of an eating disorders treatment program or facility.\u00a0 In a specialized treatment facility, the team is already in place and the members work together on a regular basis. Treatment Guidelines, etc. Part of your treatment plan should include a clear list of guidelines.\u00a0 These are in place so that you know what\u2019s expected of you, what you should do if you\u2019re not able to follow the plan (e.g. you have to go out of town on business, or you get sick and can\u2019t make an appointment, etc.), and what to do if a medical problem or emergency arises that\u2019s directly related to your eating disorder. Financial Issues Mental health treatment is expensive in general, but eating disorders treatment is often quite costly.\u00a0 This is especially true if you need medical treatment or are in a residential or inpatient treatment program.\u00a0 The devil is often in the fine print, so it\u2019s important to talk to your insurance provider to understand exactly what is covered and what isn\u2019t. All that being said, don\u2019t put off or avoid treatment because of the cost.\u00a0 Your physical and emotional well-being \u2013 and possibly even your life - are at stake, and you deserve to get better.\u00a0 Talk to your doctor and\/or an eating disorders facility to identify treatment options within your means that you may not have realized were available. These are just the first steps to take if you have an eating disorder.\u00a0 Part 2 will discuss the various types of treatment for eating disorders so you can better understand the various treatment options available.