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How to Select a Doctor to Treat Anorexia


The first question is, “What kind of doctor do I need?” In modern medicine, it seems everything is a specialty and anorexia isn’t much different. While a general practitioner can diagnose and even treat some eating disorders, anorexia is usually enough of a challenge that you’d prefer a referral. And that’s the first place to start. Ask your regular doctor (if you have one) who you might see to get more focused treatment.

In some cases, a whole team will come into the mix. Eating disorders, including anorexia, can involve input from physicians for the physical problems, psychotherapists for the mental condition underlying the behavior, nutritionists to set and help keep and eating plan and even psychiatrists when mental illness is diagnosed. The team approach is exemplified by the University of California’s Eating Disorders Treatment and Research Program Team which has twelve professionals on staff, including an insurance specialist to help with billing.

Because anorexia may require hospitalization, checking for a referral at your local hospital is a good way to find a trusted doctor, as is asking others with eating disorders who has helped them. Online forums are good places to ask for a recommendation. There are also online referral services, such as the Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center, and the directory on our site: Eating Disorder Treatment.

Finding a professional that can offer the help needed will require a few questions to determine if it’s a good match. Start by asking about their training and experience in eating disorders, if they have hospital privileges and who else they use to consult on a case (such as a nutritionist or physician familiar with anorexia).

When you go in for the first appointment, have a list of questions written down. You will want a clear explanation of what’s expected, tests to be done, and the course of treatment. Do not be afraid to ask about success rates and how familiar a doctor is with the disorder. Experience counts for a great deal and a savvy practitioner who has seen many cases is less likely to fall for the tricks that patients use to conceal their behavior.