Updated: Mar 9, 2018
On the second day of National Eating Disorders Week, I am noticing a magnificent trend on social media. People are sharing their struggles, being honest with their audiences and using their platforms to open conversations around eating disorders. And this within itself is no doubt spreading the message that eating disorders affect a variety of people.
One celebrity who has always been open about her battle with an eating disorder is Demi Lovato. Glamour highlighted her today on their Instagram feed to promote awareness and a lovely friend tagged me in the post. While most of the comments were positive, there was one handle that stated, “Shut up Demi…you have an amazing body.” This statement left an undeniable sadness in my heart because it shows that there is still an arrogance and misunderstanding around the illness.
It is my hope that if you get anything out of the postings of those sharing their hardships, resources and the like, it is that you shed any condescending nature of your thoughts surrounding eating disorders. The stories other health professionals and I will continue to hear in our offices, clients with tissues in hand, well after NEDA week is over, will continue to be heartbreaking. There will people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities fighting the eating disorder voice that found its way to them. And rather than spew harsh words, I hope you offer a helping hand.
If you suspect someone you care for has an eating disorder, NEDA has outlined how to approach the situation with compassion, to the best of your ability and in a supportive manner:
If the person admits to needing assistance, there are multiple levels of care available. Health professionals can help you understand which level of care is most appropriate.
1. INTENSIVE OUTPATIENT/OUTPATIENT
Patient is medically stable and does not need daily medical monitoring
Patient is psychiatrically stable and has symptoms under sufficient control to be able to function in normal social, educational, or vocational situations and continue to make progress in recovery
2. PARTIAL HOSPITAL
Patient is medically stable but:
Eating disorder impairs functioning, though without immediate risk
Needs daily assessment of physiologic and mental status
Patient is psychiatrically stable but:
Unable to function in normal social, educational, or vocational situations
Engages in daily binge eating, purging, fasting or very limited food intake, or other pathogenic weight control techniques
Patient is medically stable and requires no intensive medical intervention
Patient is psychiatrically impaired and unable to respond to partial hospital or outpatient treatment
Patient is medically unstable as determined by:
Unstable or depressed vital signs
Laboratory findings presenting acute health risk
Complications due to coexisting medical problems such as diabetes
Patient is psychiatrically unstable as determined by:
Rapidly worsening symptoms
Suicidal and unable to contract for safety
It is important to remember that individuals can fluctuate between each level of care. For more information about implementing care, click here.