Eating disorders are severe mental health illnesses that negatively impact a person’s social, mental, and physical health. Fortunately, treatment is successful in providing individuals living with eating disorders the tools and support necessary to establish healthier lifestyles and heal from disordered eating. Eating disorders do not discriminate in who they can affect. They can develop in people of any age, race, religion, career, and gender. But, adolescent individuals are at a higher risk of developing eating disorders. So, for both parents of these individuals and these adolescents themselves, it can be helpful to understand what to expect when getting help. The first thing that a person getting help for an eating disorder through treatment can expect is an eating disorder assessment, which is the beginning step of treatment. So, what is an eating disorder assessment and what can one expect once this is complete?
The first step to the eating disorder assessment is a screening process that evaluates further whether or not an adolescent may be living with an eating disorder. This screening process involves asking the adolescent a number of questions that may include:
“Do you think you are overweight even though other people have told you that you aren’t?”
“Is what you eat something that concerns you on a daily basis?”
“Do you use purging behaviors when you are feeling full?”
“Have you recently lost weight in a short period of time?”
“Are you unable to control how much you eat?”
These and other questions can help mental health specialists better assess if further evaluation is necessary in order to continue further evaluation and determine a specific eating disorder diagnosis.
Going over the history of a person’s behaviors and thought patterns can better assess whether or not an adolescent individual is struggling with an eating disorder. Some of the questions that may be asked during the history screening of an assessment may include questions such as:
“Do you ever eat secretly or hide evidence that you have eaten?”
“Have you ever used alcohol or any other addictive substances to numb feelings?”
“What do you eat in a day?”
“Do you have a regular period?”
“How often do you exercise and what does typical exercise look like for you?”
“Do you ever feel depressed or anxious?”
“Have you ever used laxatives or other methods to rid your body of calories after a meal?”
Asking questions about a patient’s past behaviors and feelings can provide mental health practitioners with insights into a person’s developed symptoms as the result of an eating disorder. And, can help provide further information in order to make an accurate diagnosis.
Along with asking screening questions and evaluating a person’s history of eating disorder behaviors and thought patterns, what can also be effective in the assessment process is a physical evaluation. Examining an individual’s physical health can help to pinpoint medical issues that may have developed as a result of disordered eating behaviors. For example, blood can be taken to identify if an adolescent has low iron levels, which can indicate malnourishment. And, can help to determine medications that may be able to address these physical health issues.
It’s a challenge to accept help for an eating disorder, and the process of an eating disorder assessment can seem overwhelming. However, here at Yellowbrick, we approach our mental health assessments with compassion and understanding. We know that taking the first step to getting help can be hard. So, we attempt to make the assessment process as quick and easy as possible. This way, people in our care can feel heard and supported in their initial step to getting treatment. To learn more about our evaluation process and what you can expect with our eating disorder program at our facility located in Evanston, IL, find out more on our website.
Yellowbrick collaborates with adolescents and emerging adults, ages 16-30's, their families and participating professionals toward the development and implementation of a strategic “Life Plan.” An integrative, multi-specialty consultation clarifies strengths, limitations, and risks, and defines motivations, goals and choices.
A mental health condition that’s characterized by intense shifts in mood including both manic and depressive episodes.
People living with Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, experience episodes of depression and sadness that are debilitating to daily life.
Those living with anxiety disorders experience high levels of anxiety and stress that interfere negatively with daily life.
A mental health issue in which a person’s cognitive function is impaired, resulting in symptoms like experiencing challenges with conducting speech, reading and writing, and behavior.
Mental health disorders that negatively affect a person’s behaviors, thought patterns, and function. People diagnosed with these disorders experience challenges with managing relationships and understanding various situations.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that people can develop as a result of experiencing traumatic situations, characterized by symptoms including flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, and more.
A mental health condition that is characterized by specific symptoms of forgetfulness and lack of concentration, which makes it challenging to complete necessary tasks.
Mental health conditions that interfere with a person’s eating habits, thought patterns, and behaviors in negative ways.
A mental health disorder diagnosable with the DSM-5 that is characterized by both obsessions and compulsive behaviors.