It is possible to assume that the patient might have an eating disorder due to their possible low BMI and interest in dieting and diet pills. To support or refute the assumptions, I will need to evaluate the patient’s height, weight, and BMI to see whether it is low or normal. Hair, skin, and lanugo will need to be examined as well; I will need to ask the patient whether they have noticed any hair loss lately or skin dryness. If the patient is female, she will need to provide information about her menstruation history. Blood pressure, pulse, and core temperature will be measured too.
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It is also advisable to ask the patient whether they experienced fainting, chest pain, and hands/feet numbness recently to see whether there are any cardiovascular issues. Repetitive sore throats and abrasions on fingers (visible when a patient is frequently trying to induce vomiting) can indicate recurrent vomiting.
Intuitive eating if combined with trusting one’s body ability to indicate whether a person should continue or stop eating can be suggested as a health promotion strategy. As Denny, Loth, Eisenberg, and Neumark-Sztainer (2013) point out, the participants of their study who reported that they trusted their body’s ability to tell them how much to eat had lower odds of disordered eating behaviors and chronic dieting. The patient will need to receive detailed guidance about intuitive eating and learn how to trust their body to prevent any chronic dieting or binge eating.
Atypical antipsychotics can be prescribed to reduce anxiety, obsessive thinking, and related anorexic conditions (Watson & Bulik, 2013). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are also used in patients with eating disorders. Nevertheless, there is no clear evidence of whether SSRIs can be beneficial when treating anorexia nervosa (Watson & Bulik, 2013). Non-pharmacological interventions can include exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, and family therapy. Sanchez-Carracedo, Neumark-Sztainer, and Lopez-Guimera (2012) point out that the patient and their family should pay less attention to their weight but rather focus on healthy dieting, encouraging exercise and physical activity, and talk about health interventions more often than about the patient’s health.
The patient should be counseled about the influence of eating disorders on one’s memory, work performance, including concentration and other cognitive functions. The patient can be asked to monitor their thoughts, keep notes about any possible recurrent disorder episodes, and share one’s observation during a follow-up. I will need to evaluate the patient’s physical and mental state; I can also provide them with a questionnaire that is used to monitor the progress of treatment of an eating disorder.
If the patient is not satisfied with the current therapy, self-help groups and nurse counseling can also be suggested as possible interventions. The patient should be instructed about the influence of media on eating disorders and the representation of these disorders in movies, TV series, and books/magazines. The patient should pay attention to the link between eating disorders and successfully, conventionally attractive actors and actresses to understand that the media can use this type of disorder as a sign of success and normality. I should explain to the patient the severity of eating disorders and their possible adverse influence on the patient’s health and life. The patient can receive articles and books about critical evaluation of fad diets and other potentially harmful forms of dieting to reflect upon those. The patient should be referred to an eating disorders treatment center or mental health center that also covers eating disorders and provides both pharmacological and non-pharmacological forms of treatment.
Denny, K. N., Loth, K., Eisenberg, M. E., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2013). Intuitive eating in young adults. Who is doing it, and how is it related to disordered eating behaviors? Appetite, 60(1), 13-19.
Sanchez-Carracedo, D., Neumark-Sztainer, D., & Lopez-Guimera, G. (2012). Integrated prevention of obesity and eating disorders: Barriers, developments and opportunities. Public Health Nutrition, 15(12), 2295-2309.
Watson, H. J., & Bulik, C. M. (2013). Update on the treatment of anorexia nervosa: Review of clinical trials, practice guidelines and emerging interventions. Psychological Medicine, 43(12), 2477-2500.