If you are concerned that you or someone you know may have an eating disorder it is important to have a discussion with your General Practitioner (GP) as soon as possible.
We understand for many, this step may be daunting, but it is an important step in the road to getting help. Being open and honest about your experience and concerns will help your chosen GP to deliver the best possible care to you. Please remember that some GP’s may be new to the field of eating disorders and may have questions too.
There are some steps you may wish to take to reduce any anxiety you may have about discussing any eating concerns with your GP:
Booking an appointment with a GP
If you don’t have a regular GP you feel comfortable with we suggest looking at your local medical practices to see if they have a GP who specialises in Mental Health. We are fortunate that there are many GPs in Newcastle and Central Coast areas who do have experience in working with people living with an eating disorder.
When you speak with the receptionist, please request a longer appointment with the GP. This may cost a little bit more, but Medicare usually give you more money back on your rebate to help cover the longer appointment. It will allow you and your GP more time to discuss things without feeling rushed.
Before the appointment:
- Write down some symptoms you or your loved one is experiencing. It is easy to forget what you would like to talk about when you go to a GP!
- If you are an adult seeking help for yourself, you may wish to jump online and complete an EDEQ questionnaire. Print this out ready for the appointment. This questionnaire is available on the Inside Out Institute website.
- If you are the parent of a child/adolescent with an eating disorder there is a wonderful online tool called Feed Your Instinct. You may wish to complete this online questionnaire and take to the GP appointment.
During the appointment:
If the appointment is for your child/adolescent:
- Explain the severity of your child’s behaviours e.g. restriction, exercise, purging (Feed Your Instinct will help with this)
- Discuss the symptoms your child is experiencing e.g. cold hands, dizziness. Ask the GP to take the child’s heart rate, blood pressure and temperature.
- Ask for a referral to a Paediatrician.
- Ask to book a review appointment to check on the child’s progress. We often suggest weekly check ups. Don’t forget to schedule this appointment before you leave the practice.
- Ask if your child may be eligible for a care plan with Medicare. This may help with the cost of attending treatment. You may need to come back on another day to do this.
If the appointment is for yourself:
- Explain the severity of your behaviours e.g. skipping meals, calorie counting, exercise, purging.
- The EDEQ questionnaire can help with this. You may hand it to the GP if you find it difficult to start the conversation.
- Discuss the symptoms you may be experiencing e.g. cold hands, dizziness. Ask the GP to take the your heart rate, blood pressure and temperature.
- Ask to book a review appointment to check your symptoms and progress. The GP is an important part of a multi-disciplinary team. You will need to see them often to check in on your symptoms, progress, medical status, medication and care plans. We often suggest weekly check ups at the start of treatment. Don’t forget to schedule this appointment before you leave the practice.
- Ask if you are medically stable for outpatient treatment. You may choose to ask it like this: I am feeling really unwell, am I well enough to attend an outpatient clinic or do I need more intensive support?
If you are finding it difficult to start a conversation with your GP, it’s ok.
When you book an appointment at Myrtle Oak Clinic, with your permission, we will send a standard medical assessment form to your GP (with your consent). Asking the GP if they have received the form from Myrtle Oak Clinic may make starting the conversation a little easier. You may even want to take a printout of this blog with you, so you can remember what to ask.