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Adolescent Eating Disorder Recovery Program at Huron Oaks


Join us for our
3rd Annual Conference
on Eating Disorders

October 2, 2015
Register here

Newly Renovated!

With input from our patients and staff, our facility has undergone extensive renovation. We now offer a full-sized state-of-the-art kitchen and dining space for adolescents and their families to prepare and share meals together, dedicated music therapy and creative expression areas, as well as therapeutic spaces indoors and out that support healing and recovery. Huron Oaks is nestled in a wooded area on the hospital campus, surrounded by walking trails and natural spaces. It is adjacent to The Farm at St. Joe's, an innovative organic farming resource, which will provide fresh fruits and vegetables to the program at Huron Oaks.


Eating disorders are serious, complex illnesses that affect people of any size, race or gender.  Adolescence is the most common time of onset, but they can occur throughout adulthood.

The Adolescent Eating Disorder Recovery Program (EDRP) at Huron Oaks, located on the campus of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, was developed through a unique collaboration between St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Behavioral Services and Ann Arbor’s Center for Eating Disorders.  The expertise of these two organizations combines to provide a highly individualized, state-of-the-art Partial Hospitalization Program for adolescents with eating disorders. Our treatment team includes specialists in psychiatry, internal medicine, psychology, social work, nursing, nutrition, academic education, music, and activity therapy. Our treatment approach incorporates the most current evidence-based treatments. In particular, our program involves the families in all phases of treatment, drawing on the principles of Family Based Therapy to provide our adolescent patients and their families with the skills and understanding to transition to the home and outpatient setting as soon as possible. 

McAuley Inn, on the hospital campus, is an excellent resource for affordable overnight housing for families traveling from a distance.

What causes eating disorders?
There is no single identifiable cause for eating disorders. They are generally a complex combination of genetic and environmental factors. Certain personality traits, such as perfectionism, can be inherited and eating disorders do run in some families. When combined with environmental conditions that promote body dissatisfaction - for example, stress or trauma, excess focus on appearance, size or weight, and/or teasing or weight bullying – these traits can put a child or teen at risk for developing an eating disorder.

Body dissatisfaction is a negative feeling about one’s physical appearance including weight and shape.  It can develop from either internal or external (from family, peers or society) pressure to conform to an idealized norm for physical appearance which overemphasizes the importance of body weight and shape and that may be unrealistic for the majority of people.  Although the ideals may differ for males and females or certain groups, everyone, especially children and adolescents, is vulnerable to this pressure.  Dieting, which is commonly promoted and used to counteract body dissatisfaction, has also been shown to be a key risk factor for the development of all types of eating disorders .

What is the treatment for eating disorders?
Early diagnosis of eating disorders and specialized treatment leads to the most successful outcomes.  For children and adolescence the close involvement of the family in the treatment has been shown to be highly effective.  In addition, integrated team treatment that combines a variety of evidence-based interventions targeting the eating behaviors and attitudes as well as any contributing factors such as co-occurring mood or other psychiatric disorders provides the patient and family with the best chance for recovery.  These treatment modalities include medical care, psychotherapy, nutrition counseling, psychosocial skills training, psychoeducation, and expressive therapies.

What are the most common eating disorders?

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is the least common eating disorder and occurs in only 0.5-1% of all people.  It is characterized by self-starvation and an inability to maintain a healthy body weight.  Some people with anorexia may engage in self-induced vomiting, abuse of diet aids or diuretics, and/or excessive exercise to avoid weight gain. People with anorexia typically have a distorted body image and often see themselves as "fat' even when others say they are too thin.

Some signs and symptoms of anorexia:

  • sudden, sometimes extreme weight loss
  • intense fear of gaining weight
  • distorted body image
  • extreme focus on weight and shape
  • excessive exercise
  • feeling cold all the time
  • dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting
  • fatigue
  • depression; risk of suicide
  • difficulty concentrating

Health consequences of anorexia nervosa:

  • irregular heart rhythms; heart failure
  • osteoporosis
  • electrolyte imbalance
  • amenorrhea (loss of menstrual periods) in females
  • insomnia (difficulty sleeping)
  • stunted growth

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia is more common than anorexia and is seen in about 2-3% of the population.  People suffering from bulimia engage in regular binge eating followed by unhealthy ways of trying to “make up” for the calories eaten. These behaviors can include self-induced vomiting or the abuse of laxatives, diet pills, diuretics, fasting, and/or exercise. The binge eating and purging is often secretive because it is associated with a high degree of shame or embarrassment. 

Some signs and symptoms of bulimia include many of those above as well as:

  • feeling out of control around food
  • regular binge eating followed by some form of purging or compensatory behavior
  • frequent sore throat
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting blood

Health consequences of bulimia nervosa:

  • electrolyte imbalance
  • dehydration
  • damage to heart muscle
  • inflammation of esophagus
  • erosion of tooth enamel; dental caries

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is the most common form of eating disorder and may occur in as many as 5% of all people.  People with BED experience frequent episodes of out-of-control eating during which they consume a much larger amount of food than they normally would, but they do not engage in any compensatory behaviors such as seen in bulimia. These episodes are often associated with intense feelings of shame and self-disgust.   Between 40-70% of people with BED experience significant weight gain, but it is important to note that many do not and BED can be seen in people at any weight. 

Some signs and symptoms of BED include:

  • frequent episodes of binge eating; or eating in secret and for reasons other than hunger
  • feeling out-of-control around food
  • intense feelings of shame or self-loathing over the behavior
  • body shame over weight gain

Health consequences of BED:

  • insomnia
  • depression and/or anxiety
  • obesity (in some)
  • weight cycling (rapid fluctuations in weight)











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