Many people with serious eating disorders seek mental-health care only after they are pressured into it by concerned clinicians, family, friends, and employers. Although these cases make psychiatrists uncomfortable, a new study suggests that coercion plays a valuable role in jump-starting participation in the treatment of eating disorders.
A team of psychiatrists studied people with eating disorders who had denied a need for treatment when they were admitted to a hospital clinic. Nearly half changed their minds and acknowledged the necessity of treatment within 2 weeks of being hospitalized, reports Angela S. Guarda of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
The predominantly female patients included many with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. In the former disorder, a person typically loses weight through starvation and exercise. People with bulimia alternate food-eating binges with induced vomiting.