When to Refer

As with other mental and physical disorders, a professional must recognize the signs of a problem or potential problem, and then intervene effectively.

The following steps can guide you.

Know what to look for. Use the common symptoms list and simple assessment tool below. Our educational seminars also help your team screen for eating disorders, understand their effects, and use available treatment resources.

Eating disorders present physiologically and behaviorally. These symptoms may indicate an eating disorder:

  • Dramatic weight gain or loss
  • Verbal preoccupation with food, weight, and shape
  • Medical complications, such as amenorrhea, bradycardia, unexpected osteopenia or osteoporosis, electrolyte abnormalities, low body temperature, orthostatic hypotension
  • Rapid or persistent decline or increase in food intake
  • Purging; restricting; binge eating; compulsive eating; compulsive exercising; abuse of diet pills, laxatives, diuretics, or emetics
  • Denial of food and eating problems, despite concerns of others
  • Eating in secret, hiding food, disrupting family meals, feeling out of control with food

Start the conversation. If you suspect a problem, the American Academy of Family Physicians and American Psychiatric Association suggest that you act quickly.

Ask permission. Ask if it is okay to discuss eating habits: “I’m concerned about your eating (or weight, body image, etc.). May we discuss how you typically eat and your relationship with food?”

Assess the situation. Ask your patient these 6 questions :

  1. Do you feel like you sometimes lose or have lost control over how you eat?
  2. Do you ever make yourself sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
  3. Do you believe yourself to be fat, even when others say you are too thin?
  4. Do food or thoughts about food dominate your life?
  5. Do thoughts about changing your body and/or your weight dominate your life?
  6. Have others become worried about your weight and/or eating?

Give feedback. Two or more "yes" answers strongly indicate the presence of disordered eating. (Adapted from SCOFF Questionnaire by Morgan, Reid & Lacy-BMJ, 1999.)

Use specialized help. If you suspect food, body image, weight, and/or eating concerns, consider referring for The Emily Program’s thorough eating disorder assessment. If an eating disorder and/or related issues are diagnosed, we will work with you and your patient to develop a personalized treatment and recovery plan.

Remember recovery is possible. Together, we can bring your patient hope and healing. We treat the whole person with a wide range of comprehensive, personalized treatment using diverse modalities.

We are passionate about helping individuals struggling with eating disorders and strive to offer the best care possible. Please contact us at (888) EMILY77 or (651) 645-5323 with questions.

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