January 2017 - Monthly News & Tips
IN THIS ISSUE
Our Woodbury, MN location launched an intensive day program (IDP) this week. For more information on The Emily Program's IDP programming, see our website.
One reason treating eating disorders can be difficult is they don’t occur in isolation for many clients. The risk of having a co-occurring medical or psychiatric condition is very high.
On the medical side, eating disorders often result in a medical crisis that may involve cardiac, gastrointestinal, liver, kidney or other serious complications. On the psychological side, eating disorders may be associated with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, trauma or a whole host of other issues.
With medical complications, there’s often a direct connection between the eating disorder and the medical issue. However, for co-occurring psychiatric conditions, there isn’t always a clear connection. Both illnesses may be disabling, but to some degree are unrelated in terms of cause and treatment.
When there is a co-occurring disorder, the most important thing a provider and loved ones must determine is which condition is the most dangerous. Often times, the eating disorder and the behaviors associated with it will put the client at the highest risk. But, there may be times when a co-occurring disorder, such as depression with suicidal concerns, will take precedence over the eating disorder.
Thus, some clients’ complications are great enough that they must be hospitalized even though in doing so perhaps puts their eating disorders at risk.
The Emily Program has developed multiple levels of care in order to address co-occurring illnesses. For example, our residential and partial hospitalization programs are designed to manage multiple co-occurring disorders, treating both the medical and psychological complications at the same time.
In addition, we have implemented a multidisciplinary team that includes a medical doctor, psychiatrist, therapist, dietitian and more, which is necessary for optimal care for these clients.
Over the course of treatment, the riskiest disorder that is most important to address may shift several times. For most clients, health will not be achieved until the eating disorder and co-occurring disorder are resolved.
It is the responsibility of a good treatment team to be constantly evaluating what is the most life-threatening, most dangerous and disabling of these disorders at any given moment and make sure it is addressed most effectively. Only then will a client achieve a life worth living.
Mark Warren, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer, The Emily Program
Eating disorders are often accompanied by other diseases. People with eating disorders often have other problems, including substance use disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sexual abuse history, depression, anxiety disorder, morbid obesity, and other health issues.
Sarah Bergen, RN, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Spokane, WA
Sarah Bergen joined The Emily Program in Spokane, WA, this past fall as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. After struggling with an eating disorder in high school and undergraduate school, she knew she wanted to work in the field to make a difference for others.
The Emily Program felt like home because of the friendly, inviting staff, the holistic approach providers take and the clear focus on clients versus simply running a business.
“The staff here in Spokane was so friendly toward me, a stranger, that they truly sealed the deal for me,” she said.
Today, Sarah’s main role is managing medications for clients suffering from mental illnesses in our Intensive Day Programs. She also covers groups or meals wherever possible to get to know those clients better. In fact, later this month Sarah will lead her own weekly group that will focus on medical and neurobiological education.
Sarah graduated from The Ohio State University and went on to earn an accelerated master’s degree there to become a psych nurse practitioner. She hopes to one day work in eating disorder research and be a part of policy changes in the field.
Learn more about Sarah and why we think she stands out!
TEP: How do you motivate clients?
Sarah: Each client is different and comes to me at varying stages of motivation, and part of motivating them is simply developing a therapeutic rapport from the get-go. Mental health is stigmatized to such a degree that I strive to create analogies between taking medication for high blood pressure and depression, for example.
In my experience, I have found that our clients benefit a great deal from knowing specifically how and what the medication treats. Sometimes, it also helps to be brutally honest about the physical consequences of eating disorder behaviors. There’s nothing like being told your heart muscle is shrinking or that as a young adult you’re on your way to osteoporosis!
TEP: What advice can you offer new clients?
Sarah: Be honest with your providers. We are not here to judge behaviors and point fingers, but to instead stop the eating disorder from getting worse and to redirect you to a healthier, more positive, fulfilling life. Also, recovery IS possible and will ALWAYS be worth it. I am living proof.
TEP: Any New Year's resolutions?
Sarah: I try to promote the idea of not creating resolutions to better myself physically, but to create a resolution to make myself a better person. So in that vein, and with my recent move across the country, I have resolved to be more in touch with my friends and family back in Ohio, as well as volunteer more here in Spokane.
Join us to hear inspiring stories of recovery from staff, former clients and community members. Recovery nights are free and open to the public. Upcoming dates:
In St. Louis Park, MN: Thurs., Feb. 2: Begins at 6:30 p.m. at 5354 Parkdale Drive • St. Louis Park, MN 55416, Room 240
In St. Paul, MN: Tues., Feb. 7: Begins at 6:30 p.m. at 2265 Como Ave. • St. Paul, MN 55108
In Case You Missed It: Highlights from the Blog
"When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them; bend them with gentleness and time. -St. Francis de Sales