Jemma was 14 years old, very thin, very pale and soft spoken. Her mother explained to me that a few months prior, Jemma had collapsed at school and the school nurse had called an ambulance to come pick up her daughter. At the hospital, it was determined that Jemma had fainted due to low blood sugar and she was referred to an endocrinologist. The endocrinologist had referred her to a nutritionist and the nutritionist had referred her to Wellpsyche for a psychiatric evaluation.
Jemma told me she was “fine.” She explained that she just didn’t like to eat many foods and that she preferred to “not get any fatter.” She went on to tell me that she counted her calories daily and would not allow herself to consume over 500 calories a day. A teen her age needs around 1800-2000 calories a day to be healthy so this was very concerning. Jemma’s weight was well under the normal range for kids her age and height although Jemma told me this information was “irrelevant” to her. Jemma also said that, on the rare occasion that she “over indulged” and consumed more than 500 calories a day, she would run 4-5 miles to “burn it off.”
Jemma was suffering from an eating disorder called Anorexia Nervosa. She did not agree with this diagnosis but, upon further urging of her mother, she agreed to enroll in a residential program for teens with disordered eating. She spent two months in the program and upon her completion of the residential portion, returned to see me for continued outpatient care. She also continued to attend groups 2 nights a week at the residential treatment center and saw her therapist and nutritionist three times a week.
Jemma benefited from medication to help control her impulse to starve herself and to improve her mood. She eventually began to gain weight and reached a “healthy weight” about 6 months into treatment. With lots of support from her therapist, psychiatric provider, therapy group and nutritionist, she was able to recover from her eating disorder. Jenna told me, “It wasn’t easy but I’m healthy now and I no longer obsess about food and my weight all day. I have time and energy to focus on other things I enjoy and that feels good.”
What WellPsyche Patients Are Saying
“Our daughter was literally disappearing before our eyes. She had always been so vibrant and beautiful, full of life. When her eating disorder started, at first we thought it would just go away on it’s own. But instead, it got worse. By the time we got her to the hospital, her body was basically shutting down. The road to recovery has been long but our amazing team has helped her regain what the eating disorder took from her. We are so thankful for her therapists, psychiatrist, nutritionist and pediatrician, who all worked together to save our daughter’s life.”
Erin, Emily's Mom
“I have to tell you that I didn’t know boys could get eating disorders. Sounds stupid, now that I know all about it but when Jack was first diagnosed, I thought it was a joke. He’s a wrestler and the obsession with his weight was very much tied to his wrestling career. He’s doing better now with a really supportive team of people that have helped him.”