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Medical History for Eating Disorders

Topic Overview

During a medical history evaluation for eating disorders, the doctor will ask you questions about:

  • The amount of food you eat at one time, how often you eat food, what type of food you eat, any particular ways that food needs to be prepared or served, and other eating habits.
  • Diets and weight loss. Your doctor may ask:
    • What types of diets you've used and how many times you've gone on a diet over the past year.
    • Whether you think you should be dieting.
    • How much weight you've lost when dieting.
    • How you feel about your shape and body size.
    • Whether your weight affects how you feel about yourself.
    • How often you think about food throughout the day.
    • Whether you think you are overweight.
  • Monthly menstrual periods. Females who have eating disorders often have irregular menstrual cycles. They often stop (or never start) having their periods.
  • Amount of sexual interest. People with anorexia nervosa often lack interest in sexual activities.
  • The type and amount of exercise you do.
  • Involvement in sports, dance, modeling, or other activities that emphasize thinness.
  • Whether you have ever eaten so much that your stomach felt uncomfortable, and whether you have ever tried to get rid of food you have eaten by vomiting or using laxatives or water pills (diuretics).
  • Whether you have any problems with your stomach, your bowels, your ability to pass urine, or skipped or slow heartbeats.
  • Whether you have had any treatment for eating disorders or other conditions (such as depression or problems with your thyroid gland) in the past.

The doctor may also ask questions about:

  • Alcohol and drug use.
  • Any difficulties with emotions (such as feeling sad or being very anxious), difficulties with recurring and uncontrollable thoughts (especially about food, dieting, or thinness), or difficulties getting along well with other people.
  • Any thoughts about wanting to hurt or kill yourself.
  • Any concerns about your sexuality, sexual preference, or sexual performance.
  • Any history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. Stewart Agras, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry
Last Revised April 10, 2012

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