Recognizing and avoiding eating disorders

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Recognizing and avoiding eating disorders

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What might you see if your daughter is developing an eating disorder and how should you respond to that? If your daughter is developing Anorexia, you might see her picking at her food and leaving food on her plate. She may complain that she is fat or continue dieting, even though she is already thin. She may cover up her body, so that you can't see how much weight she has lost. She may lose her period. These are all signs of Anorexia, which is dangerous because it can be life threatening. If your daughter is developing Bulimia, you may see her under eating and then over eating, followed by a trip to the bathroom. She may get caught up in a cycle of restricting her food, over eating, and then purging by either vomiting, using laxatives, or exercising excessively. If she is developing compulsive eating, you may see her over eating and putting on weight. Often girls feel embarrassed and are very private about these behaviors, but your daughter will benefit from you approaching her and asking her about it. What you can say to your daughter is, "I'm worried that you've gotten pulled into an eating problem. I think it would be helpful for us to make an appointment and find out what is going on." Then, schedule an appointment with her for her pediatrician and an eating disorders specialist. Girls really benefit from early intervention with eating problems. They have the best outcome when their parents are very actively involved in their treatment.

Watch Video: Recognizing and avoiding eating disorders by SuEllen Hamkins, MD, ...

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SuEllen Hamkins, MD

Psychiatrist & Author

SuEllen Hamkins, MD, is a psychiatrist, author and founding member of the Mother-Daughter Project, a community of women and girls that developed powerful, practical ways to help mothers and daughters stay connected and thrive through adolescence. Co-author of The Mother-Daughter Project: How Mothers and Daughters Can Band Together, Beat the Odds and Thrive Through Adolescence, Dr. Hamkins has given numerous presentations for parents and psychotherapists around the world, focusing on mothers, daughters, their relationships and the kinds of communities that nurture them.  As the psychiatrist for the Smith College Counseling Service from 1992-2004, SuEllen offered consultation to over a thousand women ages 16 to 23 to help them resist and overcome problems such as anorexia, bulimia, depression, anxiety, trauma, assault, and self-injury.  In addition to her work on behalf of mothers and daughters, as the Assistant Director for Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, she has been instrumental in developing strengths-based, narrative approaches to psychotherapy and psychiatric practice, helping people cultivate their values and strengths in the face of serious difficulties.  SuEllen is the mother of two daughters, now 17 and 22, and raising them has been the most thrilling and rewarding work of her life. She lives with her husband and younger daughter in western Massachusetts, where they love to swim outdoors, cross country ski, shoe snow, dance, cook and lounge around in the living room, reading. 

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