Ginny Duvall, nurse at Allegro Pediatrics, offers helpful information for families dealing with an eating disorder.
Eating disorders are common and can be a lifelong challenge. They can affect anyone, regardless of race, gender, or body type. It is important to understand that having an eating disorder is not a choice. Eating disorders are caused by complex interactions between genetic and environmental triggers. An eating disorder can be a person’s way of coping with mental health issues, offering them a sense of control. During the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the number and severity of young people suffering from eating disorders. Eating disorders impair an individual’s physical and mental health and can impact their relationships with friends and friends, as well as their performance at school and activities. If you suspect your child is dealing with an eating disorder, it is important to understand what they may be experiencing and how to help.
Some of the most common diagnoses are:
Eating disorders can develop in anyone. However, the following factors and traits can increase a person’s risk:
Events that may trigger an eating disorder:
Eating disorders affect both the mind and the body. Some behaviors or symptoms that may suggest an eating disorder include:
Your primary care provider (PCP) is available to confidentially discuss your concerns and to evaluate your child. If a diagnosis is made, treatment requires medical monitoring by your pediatrician as well as support from professionals who specialize in nutrition and counseling. Children do best when families are involved in their recovery, so education is often the first step. Based on the severity of your child’s eating disorder, your PCP will recommend what level of care is best. Mild cases can be treated in the outpatient setting. Moderate or progressive cases require intensive outpatient program (IOP) or a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). Severe or unstable patients need to be hospitalized. Allegro has created a helpful resource guide for families dealing with an eating disorder. Some parents and patients find it helpful to join a support group.
Due to higher demand than capacity in our area, many specialists and programs have waiting lists to be accepted for care. Your PCP will work with your family to develop a safe monitoring schedule to ensure your child remains medically stable while waiting for placement. Parents play an important role in helping their child heal. Home support can start immediately. In addition to educating yourself, consider the following:
If you have any concerns that your child could have an eating disorder, please schedule a “new behavioral health concern” visit with your regular pediatrician. Allegro Pediatrics is here to make sure your child is healthy and receiving balanced nutrition.