How Long Does Eating Disorder Recovery Take?

How long does eating disorder recovery take? And is there a “right” or “wrong” way to recover?

This was a question Laura, a listener from our community, wrote in to be answered on The Recovery Warrior Shows.

In our mission to help you learn from the best, we connected with Maris Degener, director of the peer mentorship program at Equip Health. She shared her insight on how long it takes to recover and if there’s a right way to go about it.

Factors Affecting Eating Disorder Recovery Time

In general, recovery from an eating disorder can take several months to several years.

Some people may see improvements in their eating disorder symptoms within weeks or months of beginning treatment, while others may require more intensive and long-term treatment to achieve a full recovery.

Maris explains how long it takes to recover from an eating disorder depends on several factors, including:

  • Type of eating disorder: Different types of eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, can have different recovery times.
  • Severity of the disorder: Eating disorders can range from mild to severe, and the severity of the disorder can affect the recovery time.
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions: Many people with eating disorders also have co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or substance use disorders. Treating these conditions can help improve the chances of a successful recovery.
  • Access to treatment: Access to appropriate treatment, such as therapy, medication, and support groups, can also affect the recovery time.

Is There a “Right” Way to Recover?

There is no one-size-fits-all for eating disorder recovery, and Maris Degener reassures us that there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to go about it.

You can evaluate if something is more or less helpful. But I’d never say it’s about ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, or ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Recovery looks different for everyone. It can be complex and challenging. But it’s not black and white, and there’s no wrong way to do it. You can’t fail at recovery. It’s a series of small wins, and every setback is an opportunity to learn and move forward.

Factors That Can Influence How Long It Takes To Recover

It takes time to achieve a strong and lasting recovery. It usually feels like it’s taking longer than you’d like it to. Maris explains that there are things you have power over along the way.

There are several factors influencing how long it takes to recover from an eating disorder, including:

  • Compliance with treatment: Compliance with treatment, including attending therapy sessions, taking medications as prescribed, and following a treatment plan, can help speed up the recovery process.
  • Motivation and willingness to change: A person’s motivation and willingness to change can also influence their recovery timeline. Those who are motivated to recover and willing to make changes may have a faster recovery than those who are resistant to change.
  • Social support: Having a strong support system, such as family and friends who understand the challenges of recovery, can also help improve the chances of a successful recovery.
  • Early detection: Research suggests that early detection and intervention can significantly contribute to better outcomes. At the same time, full recovery can happen at any age.
  • Relapse prevention: Developing relapse prevention strategies and skills can help prevent setbacks and speed up the recovery process.

Eating disorder recovery is a complex process, there is no set timeline, and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to recover. And it’s important to know that with the right treatment and support, recovery is possible.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the uncertain timeline of recovery, take a moment to look back at how far you’ve come, rather than focusing on how far you have to go. Every small step is a win, moving you closer to a better life.

Click here to find out more information about virtual eating disorder treatment with Equip Health.

Connect with Maris Degener & Equip

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