"Many people with eating disorders don't want to give up their eating disorder," said Theodore E. Weltzin, MD, FAED, medical director of Eating Disorder Services at Rogers Memorial Hospital. In the more than 20 years he's spent specialized in working with eating disorders patients of all kinds, that's consistently part of the story.
Unlike a lot of problematic behaviors, someone with an eating disorder can't follow an abstinence path to wellness. Eating is ingrained in nearly every culture. Even modern nutritional science is not always exactly sure what is the best path to wellness for everybody.
"We pride ourselves being able to really figure out for that individual what are the issues that are going to help them get better," said Dr. Weltzin. "What we've found is that if we can bring together specialists who work in different areas for people who have problems that fit in both those areas, the treatment seems to be more efficient and more successful."
A great example of this is Rogers' combined eating disorder and anxiety disorder program. A big part of treatment at Rogers is aligning patients with the aspects of our treatment that will give them their best chances of getting better. Rogers' own outcome studies have demonstrated that patients with anxiety disorders respond to certain aspects of treatment better than others.
Rogers was, for example, the home to the very first treatment program in the nation specifically tailored to males. "We remain the premier program treating males with eating disorders and really provide a setting that is very comfortable for males," said Dr. Weltzin. "We want males to feel comfortable with the fact that they have a problem and they're here to get better. It isn't a 'black mark' against them, it doesn't mean they're any 'less of a man' because they have an eating disorder, but it does mean that they have some specific challenges."