Can a Doctor Tell if I Have an Eating Disorder?
A doctor may be able to detect the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder during a medical exam, but they rarely give a definitively diagnose an eating disorder based on physical symptoms alone.
Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that require a thorough assessment by a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed clinical social worker. Many mental health professionals use an eating disorder examination questionnaire.
During a medical exam, a doctor may perform a physical examination and lab tests to rule out other medical conditions that may be causing similar symptoms. They may also ask about your eating habits, weight loss or weight gain, if you are taking diet pills, if there is any self induced vomiting and see if your body mass index shows any indicative signs of a diagnosis that suggests disordered eating.
Most often an eating disorder diagnosis is determined by a mental health professional who can assess the individual's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to food and body image.
What if I do Not Want to See a Doctor?
If you are concerned that you may have an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or a binge eating disorder and are hesitant to go to your doctor, you can visit the National Eating Disorders Association and take their online quiz.
It is important to talk to eating disorder professionals who can provide a comprehensive evaluation and determine appropriate treatment. Eating disorders can have serious physical and psychological consequences, even death if left untreated.
How Doctors Diagnose Eating Disorders
Various experts diagnose eating disorders. Your family doctor and mental health specialists, ranging from counselors, psychologists to psychiatrists. When a physician does a physical exam they can apply diagnostic criteria by looking at an individual's physical complications, medical complications, and noticing symptoms around eating behaviors.
When someone has healthy eating habits, family members often do not see the warning signs of anorexia, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorders. Usually someone has an obsession to lose weight yet they appear to have a healthy diet and normal eating habits they could be suffering from an obsessive compulsive disorder.
Physical and psychological evaluations allow the proper diagnosis for treating eating disorders.
What Criteria Are Used to Diagnose Eating Disorders?
Most doctors and other eating disorder professionals use the American Psychiatric Association (APA's) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Edition) to determine the diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis of eating disorders.
This book gives detail criteria to determine not only the level of serious illnesses by categorizing as mild to severe, it also gives the specific type of disordered eating such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders.
Although eating disorders are serious illnesses with physical and emotional complications, there are no laboratory tests to detect eating disorders.
Binge eating disorders, which will have its own category in the next edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), to be published in May, is thought to affect 13 million Americans, 40% of them men.
Eating disorders can cause physical distress on our bodies. Generally during a physical exam a doctor may order laboratory tests to see if blood count and bone density are showing signs that need to be addressed.
A cardiologist can also detect ventricular problems from laboratory tests. Lastly, dentists can notice and might refer for laboratory testing due to tooth decay from stomach acid cause by self induced vomiting.
Can a Doctor Tell if You have Anorexia?
Yes. Most doctors as stated above would do a physical exam and laboratory tests. If suspected, most medical doctors would refer out for a psychological evaluation and might refer directly to an eating disorder treatment program.
Can I say I have an Eating Disorder Without being Diagnosed?
Yes, however, a self identified, a person will still be evaluated if seeking help at a facility or outpatient center that offers eating disorders program.
If you believe anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating are in fact present, please seek help with a professional.
Regardless of your weight, if you enter a program for eating disorders, your treatment team will assist you in developing a unique treatment plan to help you achieve a balanced diet and healthy mindset.
Mental health professionals help improve self esteem most often through talk therapy and Cognative behavioral therapy "CBT".
People with disordered eating may also benefit from group therapy, where they can find support and talk openly about their feelings and concerns with others who share common experiences.
If you or a someone you care about needs to seek professional help for anorexia or other eating disorders, we hope this article has brought options for you to change your life.
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