WALTHAM, Mass., Sept. 24, 2013 – Walden Behavioral Care, LLC, one of the country’s leading hospitals for treating eating disorders, announced today that it has created the Type 1 Diabetes Eating Disorder Program, the first in-patient program in New England developed to treat patients with type 1 diabetes who have an eating disorder.
The program will offer both in-patient and residential care for adolescents 12 and older and adults at its Waltham facilities.
Studies show that women with type 1 diabetes are more than twice as likely to have eating disorders as those who do not have diabetes.
“Considered individually, type 1 diabetes and eating disorders are life-threatening illnesses,” according to President and CEO Stuart Koman, Ph.D. “Considered together, they are among the most challenging illnesses we can face, especially since treatment of diabetes can be counter to treatment of eating disorders.”
For example, patients with eating disorders must overcome an ongoing obsession with food, yet treatment of diabetes requires that patients pay strict attention to what and how much they eat.
In addition to having anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder, people with type 1 diabetes also frequently skip or restrict insulin doses. Although often referred to as “diabulimia,” the practice is not a form of bulimia.
“My research indicates that 30% of girls and women with type 1 diabetes skip or reduce necessary insulin injections to lose weight,” said Ann E. Goebel-Fabbri, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Joslin Diabetes Center and a leading researcher on diabetes and eating disorders. “Doing so routinely can triple their risk of death.”
Type 1 diabetes is caused when beta cells in the pancreas, the organ that secretes insulin, are destroyed by autoantibodies. To compensate, individuals need to replace insulin, either by injecting it or using an insulin pump. Insulin can cause weight gain, so some people with diabetes either skip insulin injections or do not take enough.
Restricting insulin causes diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which can be fatal. Symptoms include vomitting, dehydration, difficulty breathing and confusion. The individual may also become comatose. Lack of proper insulin dosing can also result in a higher likelihood of diabetes complications, such as blindness, nerve damage and kidney disease.
Recognizing that patients with type 1 diabetes and eating disorders would benefit from a program that treats both illnesses together, Walden created the Type 1 Diabetes Eating Disorder Program. As a first step, Walden arranged to have medical, nursing and nutrition staff trained by Joslin staff so that they could help patients better manage their diabetes even while treating their eating disorder.
In addition, Walden has arranged to have type 1 diabetes patients who participate in the program evaluated at Joslin Diabetes Center. After evaluating the patient, the Joslin physician will develop a diabetes treatment plan for Walden staff to follow while the patient’s eating disorder is being treated at Walden.
The Joslin doctors will also work and consult with each patient’s endocrinologist, and Walden staff will have 24-hour access to consulting endocrinologists from Joslin. With ongoing communication, this team approach will ensure coordinated, efficient treatment, according to James M. Greenblatt, M.D., Medical Director of Eating Disorder Services.
“For a person who has both medical and psychiatric disorders, a team approach to treatment is more effective,” according to Dr. Greenblatt. “When a patient has diabetes and an eating disorder, the patient’s endocrinologist, primary care physician and nutritionist should be among those who are part of the team. The team will ensure that neither of these life-threatening illnesses will be ignored; both need to be front and center at all times.”
“Individually, type 1 diabetes and eating disorders can result in a wide variety of medical complications, but they are even more dangerous to a person’s health when they occur together,” according to Koman. “Given the frequency with which they occur together, the need for a program that treats people with type 1 diabetes who have eating disorders is great.”
About Walden Behavioral Care
Walden Behavioral Care, LLC of Waltham, Mass., treats eating disorders and psychiatric disorders. It is the only facility in New England that provides inpatient, residential, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient care for patients with eating disorders. It is also the only facility in New England that provides dedicated inpatient care for mood disorders. By treating mental and physical conditions concurrently, Walden helps achieve lasting results for those who seek a meaningful recovery. Walden has satellite eating disorder clinics in Braintree, Worcester and Northampton, Mass., and South Windsor, Conn. Additional information is available on Walden’s website at www.WaldenBehavioralCare.com.