When a client has a history of an eating disorder, it’s essential to be aware of the signs of eating disorder relapse. If a client states they are struggling with relapse, a provider has one job: to get them to an eating disorder assessment. Healthcare providers shouldn’t feel like they have to make the patient feel better on their own, and they certainly shouldn’t tell the client they should wait to see what happens.
If a client communicates concerns about eating, they’ve probably had concerns for quite some time. This isn’t something people often share in the first month that it is happening. Once noticed, the provider needs to treat the eating disorder the same way that they would treat any other disease–connecting their client with the best person to treat the illness.
A common mistake made in primary care offices is a medical provider saying, “Maybe you’ll snap out of it, come back to see me in a month and we can see what happened.” Two or three things are likely to occur in this scenario. The client may hear that what is happening to them is not that serious, perhaps thinking, “My doctor doesn’t think it’s a big deal, so maybe it’s not.” Another outcome may be that the person will get worse over the next month. And if the eating disorder gets worse, it becomes increasingly less likely that they will seek treatment. So, telling someone to wait should be avoided at all costs.