Priory eating disorder case study

Emma’s* parents were worried about their 16 year old; for over a year she had been on a diet that didn’t stop. They didn’t understand because she had never been overweight. She hadn’t secured any happiness from it

It made her more withdrawn, depressed and anxious. Every time they expressed concern she burst into tears or shouted at them. She had stopped eating with the family and spent most of her time in her bedroom. She was still going to school and doing extremely well in her exams, but her friends were worried about her. Emma’s parents had repeatedly suggested that she went to see the doctor but she insisted there was nothing wrong with her, and why didn’t they leave her alone. Mr and Mrs Bond had started to disagree about how to handle her and argued frequently. Emma's brother and sister were very angry with her and wouldn’t talk to her.

Finally, Mr and Mrs. Bond had a phone call from school to say that Emma had fainted and was in hospital.

eating disorder treatment imageShe was discharged a short while later but with the recommendation that they saw an eating disorders specialist. Emma’s parents took her to the GP who referred her to the Priory eating disorder service. She was admitted immediately because her weight was so low it was dangerous. Her pulse was 36/min and her temperature 34.5C.

After a thorough assessment of not only her physical condition but also her psychiatric state, she had blood drawn and an ECG performed. Because of her bradycardia and hypothermia she was nursed on bed rest with a nurse constantly in attendance. She was gradually re fed.

As her weight went up, her observations improved. She began participating in the intensive care programme and was allocated an individual therapist.

After four weeks she was moved to an acute maintenance bed and participated in the group programme of anxiety management, body image and nutritional groups. In her individual therapy she addressed a number of life events and issues which had caused her considerable stress and distress prior to the onset of the illness.

When Emma was ready for weekend leave she related much better to her family. They all believed the family therapy had helped, as well as the carer support group and education sessions.

Emma was pleased that she had been able to carry on with her AS level study whilst an inpatient and held on to her dream of going university.

On discharge, 16 weeks later Emma had gained control over her illness, dealt with a number of significant life issues and was looking forward to relating more appropriately with her friends again. Her family were more relaxed as they knew how to help her and did not fear for her future or their helplessness.

*  Names have been changed to protect patient identity.