Talking to Your Doctor About Eating Disorders

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it's essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors or experience with eating disorders. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get. Make sure you understand what you are hearing. If you don't, tell the doctor. Ask for educational materials.
  • Ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Eating Disorders

  • How serious are my symptoms?
  • How much weight do you think I should gain?
  • Have I damaged my body in any way?
  • Do I need a physical exam? Should I have tests to look for other problems related to my eating disorder?
  • Where can I get more information?

About Your Risk of Developing Other Health Problems

  • What health problems should I be worried about?
  • Can I reverse any damage that's been done as the result of my eating disorder?
  • Will my montly periods return?

About Treatment Options

  • How are eating disorders treated?
  • Are there medicines that can help me? If so:
    • How long will they take to work?
    • What are the benefits?
    • What are the side effects?
  • Have you helped other people with the same problems? If not, can you refer me to another doctor who has?
  • Can you refer me to a counselor who treats people with eating disorders?
  • Where can I find a support group or an eating disorders treatment program?
  • Can you refer me to a dietitian who can help me plan healthful meals?

If you decide to try counseling, look for counselors who treat people with eating disorders. Be sure that you feel comfortable with the person you choose. Ask the following questions:

  • How much training and experience do you have treating these problems?
  • What is your basic approach?
  • How long do I need to be treated?
  • How long and how often are the sessions?
  • What type of health insurance is accepted?
  • Do you have special payment plans to help pay for your services?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • What lifestyle changes can help me manage my eating disorder?
    • Diet and eating habits
    • Exercise
    • Stress
  • How else can I change so that I don't go back to repeat past behaviors?

About Outlook

  • What are my chances of getting better?
  • What can I do to prevent a relapse?
  • Will I be able to become pregnant?
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References:

Anorexia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114614/Anorexia-nervosa. Updated June 15, 2017. Accessed September 6, 2018.
Binge eating disorder. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated June 15, 2017. Accessed September 6, 2018.
Bulimia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114924/Bulimia-nervosa. Updated July 16, 2018. Accessed September 6, 2018.
Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed September 6, 2018.
Questions to ask treatment providers. National Eating Disorders Association website. Available at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/general-information/questions-to-ask. Accessed September 6, 2018.
Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 9/6/2018

 

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