Posted by: | 2018/11/16

Eating disorder

Good Day Dr. My sister is 31 years old. She definitely has a eating disorder but she is in denial. She is losing weight at a rapid speed and is looking really thin and frail. I suspect that she has both anorexia and bulimia, my reason for saying this is that she goes days on end without eating and then all of a sudden she will eat anything and everything in sight only to go to the bathroom afterwards and make herself sick. Like I said, she believes that she does not have a problem. Our whole family has spoken to her about this and tried to help her to get healthy, this always results in a big fight with her storming away. I want to find out if there is anything that can be done to get her to see a psychologist or to get her to a facility that can help her. She will not do this out of free will. Your advice and response will be appreciated.

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Our expert says:
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- 2018/11/16

Well, from your description, it certainly sounds as though she has a serious eating disorder. And unfortunately it is typical that the person denies that there is anything wrong, and for them to resist the the treatment they need. It is also a dangerous condition what seriously damages the person's health.  
Whether there is any way to arrange for her to be compulsorily seen by a psychiatrist for assessment and diagnosis, is controversial. Perhaps you could usefully discuss it with her GP ?  Were she to become so ill that she needed to be rushed to a hospital as an emergency, she could be assessed. There is provision within the law that where someone is ill in a way that endanger their own health or the safety of others, then they can be seen and assessed by doctors and psychiatrists even without their consent, especially if members of their family do ask for this,  and with the approval of 2 doctors, they can be compulsorily admitted to hospital for further assessment and treatment.
To protect the rights of the individual this is not an easy thing to do, but it is possible.  Your family doctor, and a local lawyer, could advise on whether this is practical in her particular situation.  Otherwise, sadly, one may have to wait for her to get more obviouly sick, for this method to be invoked.

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