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Monday, 19 March 2012

What not to say

Things doctors should not say when confronted with an Eating Disordered patient:

"He/she's not that thin"
"I've seen worse"
"It's just a phase"
"Only 35% of patients recover, you know.  You may be lucky"
"Anorexia Nervosa is very rare."
"Try and get her/him to eat a sandwich"
"He/She'll grow out of it"
"He/She is too young to have an eating disorder"
"Just tell her to stop"
"He/She's just doing it for attention.  Ignore it."
"If you back off about eating, it will probably resolve itself"
"Oh Teenagers - it is a difficult time."
"Do YOU think you are ill or is it just Mummy fussing?"

2 comments:

  1. My mother was told by our GP "It's just a phase" when she took me to the doctor as a 12-year old. He also said: "She will eat when she's hungry".

    I was told by GPs - wehn I went to see them because I was constantly fainting and was very underweight: "You look very stressed. Perhaps you could try yoga". "Your low blood pressure makes for a long and healthy life".

    Finally, finally.... a Consultant (gynaecologist, actually) told me: "You should not be taking all this HRT. Why isn't your GP treating your anorexia nervosa instead?". This Consultant was a sensible man.

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  2. Although I've gotten the "sandwich" comment from strangers and friends, the most common doctor suggestion seems to be milkshakes. That was what my pediatrician suggested the first time I was evaluated. My mother was freaking out, I was smiling and clearly lying about what I ate, my BMI was in the emaciated range, my vitals were awful, and the doctor suggested milkshakes. (A few weeks later, I was told "IP now" by the same doctor. What?) Apparently this is a pretty common anorexia remedy; at least 5 of my eating disordered friends have been told the same thing by pediatricians or GPs (all different doctors--and several in other countries). Telling anorectics to "just eat" while also suggesting a food that is "scary", nutritionally empty, and (let's face it) easily purged is just...exponentially ignorant.

    But hey. Doctors know best, right?

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