Understanding Medical Complications of Eating Disorders Can Empower Practitioners and Families and Help Motivate Recovery

Too often, medical complications of eating disorders are under-recognized, under-treated, or mishandled because practitioners on the mental health side lack training in this arena, and practitioners on the medical side have no experience with eating disorders. Patients and families can be left with broken trust in the system and feel reluctant to seek even urgent care. Practitioners on the mental health side can feel compromised as they try to manage increasingly complicated medical problems. And primary care providers and emergency clinicians can feel uneasy trying to balance emotional and medical needs, or may over-refer patients to subspecialists. A good understanding of the medical complications that affect patients who purely restrict, and those who purge, can actually help empower the entire outpatient team, establish trust, and motivate recovery.