NEDAwareness: Medical Professionals

Posted by on Feb 27, 2015

I was anorexic. My husband was in medical school. Both of us missed that I had a serious problem.

Day 6 of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is about making the medical community more aware of the signs and symptoms of eating disorders.

The fact that my eating disorder went unnoticed for so long made us both aware of a major gap in medical training. My husband went to a top medical school in New York City, yet all he learned about eating disorders were “the basics.” Namely, what you would read in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

As a result, the only image he had of eating disorders were of the most severe cases — the patients who were admitted to a hospital, since that is where he and his classmates trained.

So when I initially tried to tell him that I had anorexia, he didn’t understand. His vision of anorexia was the hospitalized girl whose bones were breaking, whose hair was falling out, and whose body was covered in a fine layer of lanugo. I’d never broken a bone. My hair was indeed falling out, but the only evidence was a clogged shower drain rather than a balding scalp. I never grew lanugo. True, I was significantly underweight, but I had been that way for years — he thought it was my natural body type.

When I entered treatment, he came to every couples session and open family group so that he could learn about the illness that had blindsided him. He was shocked to learn that there was so much more to eating disorders than he — a member of the medical profession — had ever been taught.

Medical professionals are crucial for prevention and early intervention

NEDAwareness Medical ProfessionalsThe medical community is an ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL part of the fight against eating disorders. Well-trained doctors could make all the difference to people who are at-risk for these illnesses. Doctors need to be trained to recognize the nuances of the disorder and to recognize the emerging patterns and symptoms BEFORE a patient’s body starts to exhibit the physical signs of an eating disorder (which, at that point, means that the illness is quite advanced).

It is well-established that the earlier the intervention, the better the prognosis. Doctors are in an ideal position to further these efforts. It’s time to bring them up to speed.

Fortunately, there is at least one doctor here in New York City who now knows the ins and outs of eating disorders. I highly recommend him 🙂

(I predict an eye-roll there from him…)

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