Eating disorders are still widely misunderstood in the U.S., so here are a few startling facts:
- About 4 percent of the population in this country is afflicted with anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder;
- People afflicted with eating disorders have the highest mortality rate out of those with any mental illness;
- The suicide rate for those with eating disorders is 50 percent higher than the general population.
“It’s an evil, deadly, pernicious disease,” said Stuart L. Koman, Ph.D. and president and CEO of Walden Behavior Care.
With that in mind, Walden has just opened a new clinic for treating eating disorders on the Eastern Connecticut Health Network medical campus in South Windsor at 2400 Tamarack Ave.
The clinic held an open house Thursday evening to highlight its new offices, which opened about three weeks ago.
Jennifer Smith, the director of outpatient programs, said that the South Windsor clinic is Walden’s fourth satellite program and first of its kind in Connecticut. The South Windsor clinic offers several outpatient programs for adults and adolescents.
Walden, according to Smith, takes a multi-health approach, treating a patient’s biological (making sure they are physically and medically stable) and psychological issues.
In the South Windsor program, Walden employs five clinicians, a psychiatrist, a dietician and a mental health counselor.
A program may include individual and group therapy, medical monitoring, nutritional counseling as well as counseling for family and friends, which is an essential component of treatment, according to Smith.
“It’s critical,” Smith said. “It’s hard for people to understand.”
“[Eating disorders] aren’t natural,” Komen added. “It’s a disorder. … There are a lot of misconceptions out there.”
Smith said that an eating disorder can take over a person’s life to the point where he or she narrows her social interactions based on food intake or purging.
“They won’t go to parties, because there will be food there that they are scared of eating,” she said. “Their world becomes small. We get them to re-engage in their lives in school, in their jobs. It’s devastating.”
But, with clinics like Walden, there is hope, according to Smith.
For additional information, visit Walden’s website at www.waldenbehavioralcare.com.