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How to Talk to a Doctor about Bulimia

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The ideal situation is to mention ahead of time to your physician that you are concerned about bulimia. This allows your doctor to review the subject and your records with an eating disorder in mind. They may even ask you to get some lab work done before the appointment, but in any case, the doctor will be better prepared to answer your questions and look for specific physical symptoms to evaluate your case. In some instances, your doctor may refer you to a specialist, rather than take on a problem outside their area of expertise. Asking ahead of time gives them the chance to do so.

The other advantage of letting your doctor know your concerns is that you are committed, before the appointment, to reveal your condition and get help. Too often, patients think they'll mention it during an appointment for another condition (typically a physical or checkup) but when the moment arrives, they chicken out.

Write down your questions ahead of time. This gives you some time to think things over and decide what’s most important to you. Even if you don’t pull your questions out during the appointment, just writing them down and reviewing before the appointment will make things go smoother. Often, there will be things you’ve read online or heard from others that need clearing up – not all symptoms will apply to you, and your doctor will be the best resource to clarify matters.

All physicians are qualified to evaluate the physical symptoms of bulimia. They will know what tests to perform and labs to get. But not all physicians feel comfortable treating bulimia since it crosses the boundary between a strictly physical condition and a mental health issue. Don’t be surprised if your physician decides to refer you to a psychologist or specialist in eating disorders – the critical thing is that you are seeking professional help instead of struggling with bulimia on your own.

What will my doctor ask?

Your physician will primarily be interested in your eating habits and emotional state. And here is where it is tough to be honest. Admitting all the embarrassing and harmful behaviors isn’t easy at all. This makes it critical to have a good relationship, one built on trust, with your physician. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. If you run into resistance or an overly judgmental attitude, it may be time to find another professional to help you. No one wants to be lectured or judged when help and understanding are what’s needed.

If you don’t feel like you can work with your physician after talking with them, do not hesitate to ask for a referral.