Eating Disorder News

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A patient’s view of eating disorder treatment resources in the San Francisco Bay Area

January 22nd, 2006

Jeanene Harlick describes her experience with finding suitable outpatient treatment as a recovering anorexic in a recent issue of the San Francisco Chronicle.

“How about prunes, could you commit to three prunes a day? Or two?” Strain asked me.

I responded with a tortured stare. Forty calories, my mind calculated. Not too bad, but two prunes a day would hardly get things moving. It seemed rather pointless.

After getting weighed, I left her office promising to call her by the end of the week with a food item I could commit to. I also left feeling grateful that I had stumbled upon a doctor who got me, who understood the types of baby steps necessary to lead an eating-disordered woman toward recovery. She monitored my weight, but did it on a private scale, rather than out in the front of the office, where everyone could see. She was a health care worker who knew to check for things like low potassium levels, low heart rate, anemia and the gap between my sitting and standing blood pressures.

In addition to the challenges of recovering from anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders, patients find that there are relatively few treatment programs and professionals in the Bay Area that specialize in eating disorders, making it difficult for patients to sustain their recovery after taking the first steps in an inpatient facility or another intensive treatment program.

The lack of resources is not only a hurdle for those just realizing they need help. It’s a major obstacle, as well, for women discharged from out-of-area programs and returning to the Bay Area. For those women, assembling a good after-care team — composed of a doctor, nutritionist, therapist and psychiatrist — is key to maintaining the momentum of recovery.


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