Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Renfrew presents: "What are you waiting for? The possibilities of long-term recovery"

Register Now!  The Renfrew Center Foundation Presents

What are you Waiting for?
The Possibilities of Long-Term Recovery

A FREE Webinar for Those in Recovery
November 16, 2010
12:00 PM – 1:15 PM EDT


November 17, 2010
8:00 PM – 9:15 PM EDT

Join us for our next Renfrew Webinar, What are you Waiting for? The Possibilities of Long-Term Recovery. Jen Nardozzi, PsyD will interview Kristen Moeller about how she has maintained long-term recovery and Kristen will share from her recently published book, Waiting for Jack.

About Kristen
Kristen Moeller is living proof of the joy that long-term recovery can bring. At age 23, her future seemed hopeless. Now, 21 years later, she knows that life happens, there will be bumps in the road – both minor and major – and we can move through all of it while maintaining our center and not losing ourselves. She also has realized success beyond her wildest imagination. She attributes all of this to developing a strong foundation of recovery from the beginning and continually placing that before all things. Now, a bestselling author, speaker, radio show host and coach, she spreads her message of not waiting for someday to come. Instead, with willingness and action, we can live a life of recovery now.

Who Can Attend
The webinar series is open to both Renfrew alumni and anyone who is struggling with disordered eating.

How to Register
Click Here to register for the Tuesday, November 16 webinar
Click Here to register for the Wednesday, November 17 webinar

For more information, contact Kelly Fieni at 1-877-367-3383 ext. 3299 or

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ask the Expert: Why doesn’t Medicare have to follow the Mental Health Parity Act?

Q.  Why doesn’t Medicare have to follow the Mental Health Parity Act, which mandates that insurance plans cover both physical and mental ailments equally, including maximum limits on hospital stays? 
mileena, California

Medicare will cover office- and clinic-based therapy as well as services you receive in an outpatient hospital program, as long as your provider is one of the following:
• a general practitioner
• a nurse practitioner
• a physicians’ assistant
• a psychiatrist
• a clinical psychologist
• a clinical social worker
• a clinical nurse specialist

Medicare will help pay for the services of non-medical doctors (like psychologists and clinical social workers) only if the providers are Medicare-certified and take assignment, meaning that they accept Medicare’s approved amount as payment in full.

For your initial visit to a mental health professional to determine your diagnosis, and for brief appointments to manage your medications, Medicare pays 80 percent of its approved amount. For other appointments after your initial visit, Medicare pays 55 percent of its approved amount. You or your supplemental insurer are responsible for the remainder of the bill (20 percent or 45 percent coinsurance, respectively).

These are among the mental health services Medicare covers:
• Individual and group therapy.
• Family counseling to help with your treatment.
• Tests to make sure you are getting the right care.
• Activity therapies, like art, dance or music therapy.
• Occupational therapy.
• Training and education (like training on how to inject a needed medication or education about your condition).
• Substance abuse treatment.
• Laboratory tests.
• Prescription drugs that you cannot administer yourself, like injections that a doctor must give you.

You are correct that the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 prohibits insurers from charging more for mental services than other services, but the law applies only to employment-based insurance plans. Thus, Medicare is not affected. But under the Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, Medicare coinsurance for mental health services will be gradually reduced over the next five years. This year and next year, consumers will pay 45 percent for most mental health services, in 2012, they will pay 40 percent, in 2013 they will pay 35 percent and by 2014, consumers will pay 20 percent — just as they do for most other services.

The Medicare improvement law will not change how Medicare covers inpatient mental health services. If you receive care in a psychiatric hospital, Medicare helps pay for up to 190 days of inpatient care in your lifetime. After you have reached that limit, Medicare may help pay for mental health care at a general hospital. Your out-of-pocket costs are the same in a psychiatric hospital as they are in any hospital. In February, Senators John Kerry and Olympia Snowe introduced the Medicare Mental Health Inpatient Equity Act, which would eliminate the 190-day limit on inpatient psychiatric hospital stays and cover inpatient psychiatric hospital stays much as it does all other hospital stays under Medicare. Congress has yet to take action on this legislation.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

NEDA: New Health Care Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions! (Sadly not in NJ)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on July 1st the establishment of a new Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) that will offer coverage to uninsured Americans who have been unable to obtain health coverage because of a pre-existing health condition.

States have the opportunity to develop their own plan for assuming this coverage, and have until 2014 to do so, or they can opt to have HHS oversee this on their behalf. Altogether, 21 states have turned implementation over to HHS; the national Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan is now open to applicants in these 21 states where HHS is operating the program.

Click here to see if your state is one of the 21 states where coverage is now available.

PLEASE NOTE THAT NEW JERSEY IS NOT ON THE EARLY IMPLIMENTATION LIST!  The national Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will launch in NJ in 2014. 

To find out more information, or to enroll in coverage, you can visit:

HuffPo: Understanding 'Non-Specified Eating Disorders'

Imagine that your doctor told you that you suffered from a disorder that was "not otherwise specified." How would you feel about the seriousness of your condition? Would you feel nervous? Or maybe you would dismiss it as unimportant? These are the questions that confront nearly 70 percent of patients with eating disorders. We have all heard of anorexia and bulimia, but what you may not know is that there is a class of eating disorders called Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS).

EDNOS causes more deaths than either anorexia or bulimia (1). Currently, patients are diagnosed with EDNOS if they fail to meet all the requirements for anorexia and bulimia. However, the newest revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a cornerstone of psychiatry, plans to address this vagueness so that current EDNOS patients will no longer struggle with that uncertainty.

In our image-obsessed society -- where fashion models are fired for not being skinny enough and a clothing company can cause uproar by featuring the slogan "Eat Less" on a t-shirt -- eating disorders are a dangerous reality. More Americans suffer from eating disorders than Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia combined (2). In addition, more than a third of normal dieters develop an eating disorder (3).

Eating disorders often point to more serious underlying mental illnesses, like body image issues or depression. Disrupted eating patterns are the common sign, but there are other signs that suggest that someone is suffering from an eating disorder. These include never wanting to eat, uncontrollable eating tied to emotional states, repeatedly chewing and spitting out food without swallowing, frequently using laxatives or enemas, and self-evaluation heavily dependent on body image (4).

To address the high number of EDNOS cases, DSM-5 (the latest version of the manual) will better specify illnesses like Binge Eating Disorder, for example. This is useful because many disorders that are grouped together under EDNOS are not very similar; they have different characteristics and require separate attention and treatment. By doing this, both doctors and patients have a clearer understanding of which eating behaviors need to be treated, instead of shrugging it off as "unspecified."

If you were a patient, wouldn't you feel more positive about the outcome of your disease knowing that it is more than just "non-anorexia" or "non-bulimia?" Also, doctors will be able to choose more suitable strategies for how to treat these behaviors.

This change is not without controversy, though, as some doctors think that "over-specifying" these disorders in DSM-5 means patients will be diagnosed with disorders that they don't truly have (5). Will this really happen? We don't know, but I believe it will allow for eating disorders in patients to be identified more clearly and treated more effectively.

Eating disorders are a serious medical condition. If you notice these signs in yourself or someone you know, get help. Speak with a doctor about counseling. Join a local support group or one on the internet. Educate yourself on the signs of eating disorders and learn how to prevent them.

As updates to the DSM show, these disorders are legitimate mental illnesses and they require treatment; they don't just go away on their own. The medical community is doing its part to deal with unspecified eating disorders by revising its guidelines, and we each need to do our parts by educating ourselves and intervening when we suspect eating disorders in friends or loved ones.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Do dentists know how to recognise and treat patients with eating disorders?

Eating disorders affect dental health in a number of ways that are visible to dentists, but most noticeable are acid reflux effects. The symptoms include swelling of the cheeks and jaw, tooth and gum sensitivity, tooth decay, tooth discolouration, and halitosis. Stomach acid increase due to bulimia erodes teeth and causes sensitivity to the teeth with staining, and irritated gums. Fizzy drinks often used by those with anorexia also contain acid that causes damage to tooth enamel, and the gums. Once dentin becomes exposed and gums irritated, the likelihood of bacterial infection and oral disease is higher.

These acidic reactions in people with eating disorders cause pungent bad breath that peppermints, chewing gum and mouth rinse do not conceal. Besides swelling of the cheeks and jaws, dentists may also notice wounds on the upper hand surface and knuckles caused by excessive purging as a result of bulimia. Dentists are usually the first to notice these warning signs and can act before the damage is irreversible not only to oral health but also to the physical and mental health of the patient.

Eating disorders like anorexia where patients starve themselves or bulimia where patients binge and purge are biological mental illnesses and have to be very sensitively handled for a positive outcome for the patient. Many do not easily acknowledge their illness or accept treatment for the disorder. Dr. Emmett R. Bishop Jr., MD, CEDS, of the Eating Recovery Centre in Colorado suggests direct non-labelling type questions said with concern, such as “Do you make yourself throw up?” Rather than questions like: “Do you have bulimia?” Engaging the patient in a gentle and caring discussion can open the door to a referral for psychological support, such as through the new 2010 NHS Psychological Therapies. Facilitating treatment for the underlying eating disorder is step towards holistically-improved dental health.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Project Body Talk: A new site from author Harriet Brown

Check out Harriet's new site!  It features commentaries on a variety of body and health issues in a style similar to This American Life - i..e:  personal vignettes!

From the site:
Body image has become a hot-button topic in contemporary America. For women—and, increasingly, for men—there’s intense pressure to look a certain way: the unattainable thin ideal for women, and the unattainable buff ideal for men. Never before has so much time, energy, and money been spent talking about how we look—and how we think we should look.

Project BodyTalk is a safe place where people can share how they feel about their bodies and body image, their relationship with food and eating, and the cultural pressures that are so much a part of American life today.

We invite you to send us your commentaries—and to listen to other people’s. Record your story and submit it here. Learn about efforts around the country to spread body-positive messages and awareness. Start coming to terms with your body, whatever its size and shape, and see how that simple act can change your life.

Ask the Expert: Can Strep Throat Lead to Anorexia?

Dr. Kathryn Zerbe, professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University and a longtime expert on eating disorders, previously responded to readers’ questions about anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and related problems. Here, she responds to a reader who developed anorexia after a severe case of strep throat.

Q.A number of years ago, several studies indicated there might be a link between strep infections and the onset of anorexia nervosa. When I was young, my own anorexia began immediately after a severe strep infection, though I was already “ripe” for a.n. beforehand. Have any further studies been done?
Tinytim, France

A.Dr. Kathryn Zerbe responds:

You are referring to a small number of case reports that linked the development of anorexia to a condition called PANDAS, or pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infection. Since these reports were published in the late 1990s, there have been studies that specifically link some cases of anorexia to acute strep infection.

There is also ongoing investigation of how tics and obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, may worsen after a strep infection in some children up to the age of puberty. Because anorexia and obsessive-compulsive disorder often occur together, it is possible that antibodies produced by the strep bacteria could affect the brain and trigger or worsen both disorders.

At the present time, however, the National Institute of Mental Health only links the PANDAS syndrome with tics and OCD, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, separation anxiety, sleep problems and mood changes. Children who have have OCD and tics associated with PANDAS usually improve once the infection clears, only to get worse if they get another strep infection.

Children without PANDAS but who have tics and OCD tend to have the disorder for a long time, with good days and bad days, but they don’t necessarily get worse when they get a strep infection. The mechanism for PANDAS remains unknown.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pro Ana Versus Pro Recovery Sites: New Study by Johns Hopkins and Stanford University raises concerns

Pro Ana websites are popular, enticing and potentially deadly to young women. They promote thinness at all costs and often disregard health, well being and common sense. The June 17th issue of American Journal of Public Health published a recent study of Pro Ana websites. This innovative study conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Stanford University School of Medicine, has raised questions about how we can meet the needs of these Pro Ana website visitors in healthier ways. It is important that Pro Recovery sites are supported and promoted by leaders and those influential to young woman. Professors, Teachers, Coaches, Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Parents and Therapists all can help offset the pro ana movement by supporting organizations that emphasize health and self esteem over thinness. It may save a life.

Fort Worth, TX (PRWEB) June 22, 2010 -- A recent study of Pro Ana websites, published in the June 17th issue of American Journal of Public Health, shed some light on why young women are drawn to these sites and what they find there. This illuminating study has created a flurry of discussion and concern in the public.

Pro Ana websites are prolific across the internet. These sites provide tips, advice and encouragement to women on how to become thinner, emaciated or practice anorexia nervosa. Dramatic calorie restriction, fasting, excessive exercise, purging, laxatives and other unhealthy behaviors are often glorified as a magic key to achieving the media glorified waif look that has so deeply influenced women today. Eating disorder treatment is not advised or suggested. Thus, in most cases, these Pro Anorexia websites are promoting a deadly lifestyle and self destruction.

"These Pro Ana sites provide a sense of camaraderie and collaboration among the website visitors. These sites also can create a sense of pursuing a more perfect version of the self, or at least the body" commented Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, and Director of Eating Disorder Hope. Sadly, the Pro Ana sites are focused on thinness as a status symbol and promise increased confidence and power in the world if one can just become thin enough.

Fortunately, there are Pro Recovery sites that refute these claims and encourage visitors to find a sense of inner value, self esteem and worth in the content of the character - rather than the external image of the individual. Sites such as Eating Disorder Hope promote healthy self care, embracing life and pursuing recovery. This site's mission is to foster appreciation of one's uniqueness and value in the world, unrelated to appearance, achievement or applause.

Eating Disorder Hope and other recovery websites, provide treatment resources such as a Treatment Directory and a Specialist Library. These provide sufferers from anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and compulsive overeating with contacts to professionals who can treat the destructive condition and the underlying issues that led to this maladaptive behavior.

Recovery Tools are provided and explained to offer practical suggestions for developing a healthier lifestyle and self esteem. Tools are given, such as nutrition tips, mindfulness skills, spirituality, improving rational thinking, body image improvement advice and relapse prevention techniques.

Resources are also provided that direct the individual to articles on recovery, inspirational real stories of recovered women, pro recovery newsletters and blogs, support groups, and excellent non profit organizations that support eating disorder awareness and prevention.

If you know of a woman suffering from anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder or seemingly becoming far too preoccupied with weight, eating and diet - Please, seek help for them. A good starting point may be to refer them to a resource such as Eating Disorder Hope where they can find eating disorder treatment referrals, recovery tips and resources, and most of all, inspiration to choose a full and meaningful life over the empty existence of anorexia and other related conditions.

Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC is Director and Founder of Eating Disorder Hope.  Eating Disorder Hope is the one stop eating disorder treatment, resource and information site. Eating Disorder Hope promotes ending eating disordered behavior, embracing life and pursuing recovery through implementing the best eating disorder treatment available for the individual with anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Around the Dinner Table Plate Drive - June 1 until June 30, 2010

The Around The Dinner Table online forum has been empowering and supporting parents since 2004: offering a 24 hour sounding board for thousands of users. This month we are holding our first annual "Plate Drive" as a fundraiser for our organization. By adding your personal messages to these plates -- created for this project by our graphic designer, Liana Mensh -- you become part of the the legacy of this organization. Your donation of at least $1 (US) for each word on the plate helps us keep the forum and F.E.A.S.T. going. We are a frugal organization - staffed by volunteers and using donated office space and materials - but need donations to pay for expenses like Internet services, telephone, insurance, and travel. By supporting this organization you show us what having this forum means to you and your family.

Anyone can participate: invite your friends and extended family to join in. Make your message anonymous or use your name. Be funny or serious. Use three words or (up to) 50. We want to hear from you and we want to include you!

Ready to add your plate?

Chicago Tribune - Eating with an anorexic child: A controversial treatment

War broke out on the day Rina Ranalli and her husband told their 12-year-old anorexic daughter the strict new house rules: three meals and three snacks a day.

Initially, their bright and previously sweet-natured girl cried, screamed insults and raged. She threw things. Punched holes in the wall. And she pretended to eat while plotting ways to hide the food. But when the seventh-grader realized her parents had her trapped — they would sit with her 24/7 if they had to — she ventured down the only available path. She began eating.

Chicago's Ranalli family was using the little-known Maudsley Approach, a grueling but evidence-based treatment for adolescents suffering from the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. The approach, also called "family-based therapy," flips conventional treatment on its head.

Often parents are advised to put their starving child in therapy or residential treatment, distance themselves to preserve the teen's independence and wait for the day the child decides to resume eating.

But under Maudsley, parents immediately start the daunting task of "re-feeding" their malnourished child. Once weight is restored — and, theoretically, rational thinking returns because the brain has some nourishment — parents step back, and control over eating is gradually returned to the child. The final phase of treatment is the initial step in traditional therapy; it addresses the underlying psychological issues that may have caused the disorder.
Read the full article here

Monday, June 21, 2010

A FREE Workshop & Webinar for Those in Recovery

Home for the Summer:
A FREE Workshop & Webinar for Those in Recovery

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM

Locations: Radnor, PA; Coconut Creek, FL; New York, NY; Ridgewood, NJ; Wilton, CT; Bethesda, MD; Charlotte, NC; Nashville, TN, and Dallas, TX.

The summer is a time associated with fun and relaxation, but it also can be a season that brings about its own unique set of challenges in eating disorder recovery. This event will be a time of self-reflection and recharge of your recovery journey. There will be journaling exercises and group discussion on various topics including:

- Assessing where you are in your recovery and stepping up your recovery
- Setting goals for your recovery process
- Body image as it relates to summer attire
- Vacations that may bring about relational and food challenges
- Changes in one’s schedule, such as managing down time

Who Can Attend
The workshop and webinar are open to both Renfrew alumni and anyone who is struggling with disordered eating.

Click here to register online for the Tuesday, July 20th workshop at a Renfrew Center outpatient site.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010
12:00 PM – 1:15 PM EDT
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
8:00 PM - 9:15 PM EDT

If you cannot attend the workshop at one of Renfrew's outpatient sites, a webinar will also be offered that will cover the same topics. Jennifer Nardozzi, PsyD and Alison Smela, a Renfrew Alumna will facilitate the webinar.

Jennifer Nardozzi, PsyD is a psychologist who specializes in treating women with eating disorders. She is the former Assistant Clinical Director of The Renfrew Center of Florida and is currently National Training Manager of The Renfrew Center Foundation and Alumni Representative.

Alison Smela is an alumna of The Renfrew Center of Philadelphia. She is 100% devoted to her recovery of mind, body and spirit. By God's grace, her journey continues in the pursuit of furthering hope for those still suffering. She currently lives with her husband in the suburbs of Chicago and she can be reached via email at

Click here to register online for the Tuesday, July 27th webinar at 12:00 PM EDT.

Click here to register online for the Wednesday, July 28th webinar at 8:00 PM EDT.

The Workshop and Webinar are both FREE.

For more information about the workshop and webinar, please contact Kelly Fieni at 1-877-367-3383, ext. 3299 or

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Understanding The Connection Between Eating Disorders and Addictions by Jody Smith

Dr. Carolyn Ross observed through her medical practice that many patients were crumbling due to stress and unhealthy lifestyle habits. She began to look into complementary and alternative therapies, learning about the use of herbs and supplements.

She later opened three women's centers offering complementary and alternative therapies. When her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Dr. Ross studied with Dr. Andrew Weil.

Dr. Ross talks about the differences and similarities between eating disorders and addictions.

Dr. Ross:
Well, eating disorders are very much related to addictions of all kinds and also to mood disorders, but let’s just talk first about addictions. So, about 8 to 20% of people with anorexia also have chemical dependency issues, whether it be alcohol or other substances. An even higher percentage of individuals with bulimia or binge eating disorder also have problems with drug and alcohol abuse or dependence.

So why does that happen? How are those two related? Well there are a number of different reasons. Some of them have to do with what the purpose is that the addiction is serving and many people feel that depression may be the underlying reason why eating disorders and substance use disorders go hand-in-hand or are co-occurring, as we say.

As well, many people with both substance use disorders and eating disorders have a history of a trauma or abuse in their lives and this is another common reason why those go together. So, if you have one, it’s likely that someone in your family has had either depression, chemical dependency, or an eating disorder. So there is a familial risk as well between those disorders.

About Dr. Ross, M.D., M.P.H.:

Dr. Carolyn Ross, M.D., M.P.H., completed her undergraduate degree in Modern Foreign Languages at Purdue University and worked as a full-time mother of her two older sons before returning to school to complete her pre-med requirements. She then went to the University of Michigan Medical School.

Visit Dr. Ross at her website

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Needed: 1000 Constituents to Write Congress

Dr. Jeanine Cogan, Policy Director for the Eating Disorders Coalition, writes:

Inspired by the great success of our 2010 lobby day this Spring, we launched a Letter Writing Campaign with the ambitious goal of having 1,000 constituents write their Members of Congress. The goal is simple: get your Representative and Senators to be a cosponsor of the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders bill, aka the FREED Act.

In order to reach that goal, we need your help! Here are a few simple steps:
  1. Write a letter to your Representative and Senators. It’s easy—just go to
  2. Tweet it: “Help us eliminate eating disorders by helping to pass the FREED Act! It’s simple; go to:” (107 characters)
  3. Post this as your Facebook status: “Help us eliminate eating disorders by helping to pass the FREED Act! It’s simple; go to:
  4. Encourage your Facebook friends to "share" your status!
  5. Post the message on walls of appropriate Facebook groups/fan pages!
  6. Send the link with a personal note to all your friends and colleagues in your email address book
  7. Ask those friends and colleagues to help spread the word
  8. Send the link to advocacy groups, lists, etc.
  9. Blog about our Letter Writing Campaign
Thank you for your support and dedication to helping us pass the FREED Act. Together we can make this happen—and save lives!

Renfrew Clinic Celebrates 25 Year Anniversary in Philadelphia

by KYW’s Jim Melwert

The nation's leading authority on eating disorders, based right here in Philadelphia is celebrating 25 years.

The Renfrew Center's original facility was opened here in 1985:

"It was the first in the country exclusively devoted to treating eating disorders as clinics go."

Founder and president Sam Menaged says things certainly have changed, since Renfrew began twenty-five years ago:

"In 1985, when we opened there was no eating disorder field. Today, you can say there's a field. There are self help groups around the country, there are family foundations. There are lobby groups."

Renfrew has treated 55,000 women and now has facilities in nine states.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


The DSM5 first draft has proposed many new diagnoses that would create enormous problems (especially false positive "epidemics" and forensic misuse). Two perceived needs have driven the DSM5 Work Groups in this unhappy direction:1- therapeutic zeal not to miss patients who might benefit from treatment; and, 2-an aversion toward using the Not Otherwise Specified (NOS) categories. I will argue that these NOS categories impart a great deal of useful clinical information and are essential to the flexible and effective use of the manual. Giving every presentation a specific name and code in order to reduce the use of NOS would create much worse problems than it would solve.

The common prejudice against NOS diagnosis is that it puts psychiatry in a bad light. Why should as many as a third of our patients not qualify for anything more definitive? How do we explain this to them, their families, to referral sources, and to ourselves? How can we plan a specific treatment if the patient doesn't have a specific diagnosis? And so on.

It may be useful to answer these questions in the act of exploring the different ways patients actually qualify for a NOS diagnosis:

1-There is simply not enough information to be more specific. Sometimes, this occurs because there was insufficient time for a complete evaluation or the patient is uncooperative and there is no informant or chart. Often, though, it comes from the inherent uncertainties of the situation. I have, for example, rarely felt comfortable with any label other than Psychotic Disorder NOS for psychotic teenagers who have only short track records There is usually just too much uncertainty about the etiology (i.e., role of drugs) and their future course to be more definitive. There is nothing to be defensive about in using NOS in these situations. The designation Psychotic Disorder NOS conveys a great deal of information, while keeping tentative what deserves to be kept tentative. The immediate treatment target is clear without imposing a premature closure on long term treatment needs or prognosis. This can easily and productively be explained to patients and families.

2- The presentation clearly belongs in the section, but does not fit the prototype of any of the specific disorders defined there. For example, in DSM4 we included binge eating disorder as an example of Eating Disorder NOS, rather than elevating it to a separate coded category. This allows the clinician the flexibility to diagnose an individual patient when this is deemed necessary without prematurely reifying a category that has yet to pass its risk benefit test and might have unfortunate unintended consequences.

3-The condition is subthreshold to the specific criteria sets- but nonetheless causes obvious clinically significant distress or impairment. There is no bright line between mental disorder and normality. The decision whether a mental disorder is or is not present inherently has to be made on a case by case basis. The NOS categories provide needed flexibility in diagnosing the many people who present at the boundary with normality. Clinicians can use the appropriate NOS category for the early diagnosis of subthreshold conditions (eg "prepsychotic risk") when this clearly warranted for that particular person. This is far preferable to introducing a specific category for "psychosis risk" that would inevitably misidentify many individuals who would be much better off without diagnosis and treatment.

4-The condition presents a mixture of symptoms from different specific disorders that are individually subthreshold but jointly causative of clinically significant distress or impairment. The proposal for a Mixed Anxiety Depressive Disorder is a perfect example and is best handled as an NOS. If made an official category, it would immediately become one of the most popular diagnoses in DSM5 without any proof that treatment would provide more good than harm for the millions of people who would get the diagnosis. In all these ways, the NOS categories are indispensable. They should be celebrated, rather than denigrated and used whenever they are the best description of the less than typical patient. The designation NOS is never really nonspecific or noninformative because it places the patient in a suitable section of the manual without providing more certainty or specificity than the situation allows.

Advice to DSM5
1-Accept the fact of life that a certain degree of diagnostic uncertainty and heterogeneity is inherent in the definition of mental disorder. Do not seek to attain an unattainable and pseudoprecise total specificity.

2-Appreciate that each NOS designation provides considerable information (for example, Psychotic Disorder NOS is very different in its treatment and prognostic connotations from Mood Disorder NOS or Eating Disorder NOS).

3-List the most common examples under each NOS category and allow these to be subtypes of that NOS- eg "Eating Disorder NOS, binge eating presentation" or "Mood Disorder NOS, premenstrual dysphoric presentation".

4- Clinicians using the NOS diagnoses are dealing with non prototypical boundary cases. They must therefore be especially careful in determining that the presentation is accompanied by sufficient clinically significant distress or impairment to warrant a diagnosis of mental disorder.

5-Do not create new diagnoses in a vain attempt to replace NOS. The suggestions for new DSM5 diagnoses should instead be available as examples under the most appropriate NOS ("minor neurognitive" under Cognitive Disorders NOS etc). There are two exceptions among the proposed new diagnoses- "paraphilic coercive" and "hypersexuality"- both of which are harmful constructs whose use should be discouraged altogether, even within the NOS rubric.

Binge Eating a Psychiatric Disorder, Obesity is Not

Binge eating should be included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but obesity should not, says a group of medical experts.

A group of medical experts is recommending that binge eating be included as an official psychiatric disorder in new mental health guidelines; however, obesity should not.

At the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) last week, the work group revising the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) offered several recommendations for overhauling the eating disorders category, including adding binge eating as a psychiatric disorder. The DSM lists symptoms and criteria for diagnosing mental disorders, as well as treatments and insurance plan coverage. If the changes are approved, binge eating disorder may become recognized as an illness alongside other disorders, like anorexia and bulimia.

Binge eating is defined as consuming amounts of food larger than most would eat in a period of time under similar circumstances, and feeling a lack of control during the episode, according to the DSM group’s proposed revision. Binge eating is the most common eating disorder in the United States but it is very difficult for doctors to identify and treat.

Researchers found scientific evidence that binge eating tends to run in families and is most common in older males, with a later onset of personality disturbances. According to the DSM work group’s proposed guidelines, the person must feel distressed when eating and the binging must occur at least once a week for three months.

In addition, a binge eating episode meets at least three of these criteria:
- eating much more rapidly than normal
- eating until uncomfortably full
- eating large amounts when not physically hungry
- eating alone due to embarrassment
- feeling depressed or very guilty after overeating

Currently, binge eating falls within the category known as “Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified” (EDNOS), which also includes purging disorder (a person vomits after eating without binging before) and night eating syndrome (a person wakes up at night and eats).

Obesity was not recommended as a psychiatric disorder because “it’s a physiological, anatomical abnormality of excess body fat,” said Dr. B. Timothy Walsh, the chair of DSM-V’s eating disorders work group. He feels it should not be categorized as a mental illness.

Noted Dr. Walsh, “There are people who are overweight or obese and have eating disorders, but then there are many people who are overweight or obese and don’t have eating disorders.”

The proposed draft revisions to the DSM disorders and criteria, which include several changes to the EDNOS category, are posted on the DSM website.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cheerleaders At Risk For Eating Disorders, Body Image Issues

College cheerleaders are at high risk for body image issues and eating disorders - and may be affected by how revealing their uniforms are, according to a study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine's 57th Annual Meeting in Baltimore.

Toni Torres-McGehee, Ph.D., ATC, studied 136 Division-I and Division-II college cheerleaders to determine if position (base, flyer, etc.) and clothing requirements (daily clothes vs. full or midriff uniforms) affected eating disorder incidence or body image dissatisfaction. Participants were surveyed for weight, height and perceived ideal weight.

Although position did not appear to be a factor, cheerleaders overall were highly disposed to eating disorders: 33.1 percent had some risk of eating disorder characteristics and/or behaviors. Cheerleaders on teams with midriff uniforms were most disposed to body-image issues.

"Maladaptive body image and eating behaviors can form during youth and last a lifetime," Torres-McGehee said. "Teams and coaches should consider the long-term effects of requiring cheerleaders to wear revealing uniforms simply for aesthetic reasons."

Participants were also asked about how they thought their coaches and parents perceived their body image, and appeared most concerned they weren't fitting their coaches' ideals for body composition.

"The point of collegiate cheerleading is to create camaraderie and team spirit and to keep girls active and healthy," Torres-McGehee said. "Cheer coaches should keep these ideals in mind and try to reinforce self-esteem among their team members."

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 35,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

NEW ANAD Support group @ The Starting Point in Westmont, NJ!

ANAD of Southern New Jersey - Westmont

Organized by Tamie Beeman-Gangloff, MA
The Starting Point
215 Highland Avenue,Suite C
Westmont, NJ 08108
Phone: 602-710-0876
Fax: 856-854-0992

*Please call or email for time

Brain volume changes following weight gain in anorexics

Adult brain volume, which can be reduced by Anorexia Nervosa, can be regained, a team of American psychologists and neuroscientists have found.

The research, published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, revealed that through specialist treatment patients with this eating disorder can reverse this symptom and regain grey matter volume.

Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is a serious psychiatric eating disorder of excessive weight loss caused by relentless dieting.

The starvation that results from this illness affects physiological systems throughout the body, including the brain, but until now it has been unclear if and when brain volume reduction can be reversed through specialist treatment.

"Anorexia Nervosa wreaks havoc on many different parts of the body, including the brain," said team leader Christina Roberto, MS, MPhil from Yale University. "In our study we measured brain volume deficits among underweight patients with the illness to evaluate if the decline is reversible thought short-term weight restoration."

The team, based at the Columbia University Center for Eating Disorders used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to take pictures of the brains of 32 adult female inpatients with Anorexia Nervosa and 21 healthy women without any psychiatric illnesses.

The scans indicated that when the women with Anorexia Nervosa were in a state of starvation they had less grey matter brain volume compared to the healthy women. Those who had the illness the longest had the greatest reductions in brain volume when underweight.

"The good news is that when women with Anorexia Nervosa received treatment at a specialized eating disorders inpatient unit at Columbia University which helped them gain to a normal weight, the deficits in brain volume began to reverse over the course of only several weeks of weight gain," said Roberto. "This suggests that the reductions in brain matter volume that results from starvation can be reversed with appropriate treatment aimed at weight restoration."

The team's results reveal that underweight adult patients with AN have reduced brain volumes that increase with short-term weight restoration, however important questions still remain surrounding the link between brain volume reduction and anorexia.

Monday, May 24, 2010

MSNBC: Anorexia and bulimia the most familiar, but not the most common

Anorexia and bulimia are probably the most familiar types of eating disorders, but they are not the most common. Some 50 to 60 percent of patients don't quite make the cut to be diagnosed with full-blown anorexia or bulimia, and are instead classified as having an eating disorder "not otherwise specified" (EDNOS).

But this group is so vast, and the cases within it so diverse, that many in the field believe it creates more problems than it does solutions in terms of treating patients and understanding the syndromes. Patients lumped into this unspecified group can also have misperceptions about their condition, thinking it is not as serious as anorexia or bulimia. But in fact, recent studies have found that there really isn't a medical difference between the three recognized types of eating disorders.

Now, physicians and psychiatrists are taking action to remedy the situation. They are proposing revisions to the psychiatric "bible," the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, for the newest version (DSM-5) to be published in 2013. The suggested changes include relaxing the strict criteria for anorexia and bulimia somewhat, and giving other conditions, such as binge eating, their own official labels.

Read the full article here!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

You're Invited! Renfrew Alumni Reunion

You're Invited...
2010 Renfrew Alumni Reunion

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of The Renfrew Center!
Back to Recovery: A Future Without ED

Saturday, June 12, 2010
8:30am - 3:00pm (PA)

*Please note that this is an ON-SITE event at The Renfrew Centers of Philadelphia.

Recharge your recovery, catch up with old friends, and make new connections at this year’s Renfrew Alumni Reunion at The Renfrew Centers of Philadelphia and Florida. Throughout the day, you will have the opportunity to participate in a number of events, which will stimulate new thinking and renew decisions about recovery and insights gained at The Renfrew Center. We hope you will join us for this special occasion! Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

To register for the Philadelphia Reunion, please visit:

Cost: FREE

The following workshops will be held at the Philadelphia Reunion:
Community Meeting
Voices of Recovery
The Journey of Recovery: Going Back to Basics
Drawing on the Past, Creating the Future (Art Therapy)
Life Skills Needed for a Life without ED
Psychodrama: A Road Map through Recovery
Reinvigorate Your Mind, Body & Spirit (Movement Group)
Thirty-Something & Beyond in Recovery
Friends and Family Supporting Recovery
Closing Ritual

Please note that the program is subject to change. Click here to view descriptions of the PA and FL workshops.

For more information about the Philadelphia Reunion, please contact Lindsey Massimiani at 1-877-367-3383, ext. 3050 or

2010 Philadelphia Reunion Schedule

Saturday, June 12, 2010

8:30am - 9:00am
Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:00am - 9:30am

9:30am - 10:45am
Community Meetings

10:45am - 11:00am

11:00am - 12:15pm
Morning Workshop

12:15pm - 1:15pm

1:15pm - 2:30pm
Afternoon Workshop

2:30pm - 3:00pm
Closing Ritual

Monday, May 10, 2010

NYT: Fight Erupts Over Rules Issued for ‘Mental Health Parity’ Insurance Law

WASHINGTON — A huge fight has erupted over rules issued by the Obama administration to enforce a 2008 law that requires equal insurance coverage for the treatment of mental and physical illnesses.  The fight offers a taste of the coming battle over rules to remake the health care system under legislation pushed through Congress by President Obama.

Insurance companies and employer groups are lobbying the White House to delay and rework the rules on “mental health parity.” Insurers and many employers supported the 2008 law, but they say the rules go far beyond the intent of Congress and would cripple their cost-control techniques while raising out-of-pocket costs for some patients.

Advocates for patients generally support the rules, saying they will eliminate many forms of insurance discrimination against people with mental illness. The rules are also supported by the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and House Democrats, most notably Representative Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island.

The goal of the law is to abolish discriminatory insurance practices frequently applied to coverage for the treatment of mental health disorders and substance abuse. Under the law, insurers cannot set higher co-payments and deductibles or stricter limits on mental health benefits than they set for the treatment of physical illnesses like cancer and diabetes. For decades, such disparities have been common.

Insurers and employers agree that the law prohibits them from setting numerical limits on hospital inpatient days and outpatient visits for mental health services if they do not impose such limits on other types of medical care.

But insurers say the Obama administration went overboard when it tried to regulate “nonquantitative treatment limits.” These include the techniques used by insurers to manage care, the criteria for selection of health care providers and the rates at which they are paid.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Aetna and other insurers have urged the federal government to drop this aspect of the rules. The purpose of the law was to ensure parity in benefits for patients, not “parity in provider reimbursement,” said Justine Handelman, executive director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

But Carol A. McDaid, a lobbyist for a coalition of mental health advocates, said, “Patients are not getting access to mental health care because many insurers are not paying enough to cover the cost of services.”

This may have three consequences for patients and their families, advocates say. Patients may be unable to find mental health experts in their health plan’s network of providers. If they go outside the network, they typically pay more. And if they cannot afford it, they may not receive treatment at all.

The American Psychiatric Association said that nonquantitative treatment limits, though less visible than limits on the number of doctor visits or hospital days, could be more insidious.

Dr. James H. Scully Jr., chief executive of the association, said some insurers had tried to “circumvent the law” by “imposing new requirements for prior authorization and the submission of treatment plans for mental health services where there were no comparable requirements on the medical-surgical side.”

Insurers strenuously object to one provision of the rules that requires them to maintain a single deductible for all medical and mental health services combined. This is a significant departure from the industry’s current practice of separate deductibles.

As a result of the change, insurers say, many mental health patients will face higher out-of-pocket costs because the combined deductible will almost surely be higher than the current one for mental health services alone.

But in a letter to the administration last week, leading House Democrats said Mr. Obama was right to prohibit separate deductibles. The law, they said, was adopted to end such inappropriate distinctions between medical and mental health care services.

A number of companies like Aetna, Magellan Health Services and ValueOptions specialize in managing mental health benefits.

In issuing the new rules, the Obama administration praised the work of such companies, saying they increased the use of mental health care while holding down costs.

But Pamela B. Greenberg, president of the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, which represents these companies, said the new rules would “hamstring” their ability to use the tools that have proved effective in managing mental health benefits.

In a suit over the rules, Magellan and other companies said the concept of nonquantitative limits was “boundless and ill defined” and would reach virtually every policy and procedure used to manage mental health benefits.

One premise of the law is that mental illnesses often have a biological basis and can be treated as effectively as many physical ailments. But insurers say it is impossible to use the same techniques in managing the treatment of colon cancer and schizophrenia, or heart failure and major depression.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Press Release on the FREED Act

U.S. Sen. Harkin: Harkin, Klobuchar, Franken introduce bill to confront
eating disorders in the U.S.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Kate Cyrul / Bergen Kenny April 27, 2010 (202) 224-3254

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Al Franken (D-MN) introduced legislation today aimed at fighting and preventing eating disorders in the United States. The Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders (FREED) Act is the first comprehensive legislative effort introduced in the Senate to confront the seriousness of these diseases and to jump start research as well as improve the prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders. It expands federal research, improves tracking and recording of the actual numbers of people suffering and dying from these diseases, provides training for a wide array of health professionals and educators to better identify and screen for eating disorders, creates a new patient advocacy program to help patients get proper care, authorizes grants for eating disorder prevention programs and builds on the mental health parity and health care reform bills to improve access to treatment, particularly for teens covered by Medicaid.

“Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are widespread, insidious and too often fatal diseases. And adolescent women are by no means the only people suffering from eating disorders; these diseases don’t discriminate by gender, race, income or age,” said Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “Sadly, these diseases touch the lives of so many of our families and friends. Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder. We have got to do a better job at the federal level of investing in research, treatment and prevention and the FREED Act is a major step in the right direction.”

“The statistics on young people struggling with eating disorders are staggering,” said Klobuchar. “We must provide better resources for prevention and treatment to ensure that everyone has access to the help they need to treat and survive this often fatal disease. I want to thank the Westin family for their tireless efforts to raise awareness of the need to combat this disease.”

“I hear far too often from Minnesotans who have dealt personally with a loved one who suffers from an eating disorder. The fact is, we don’t know nearly enough about diagnosing, treating, and preventing these diseases. Today’s legislation is a major step forward in understanding eating disorders and how to stop them from destroying lives,” said Franken.

“It’s been 10 years since anorexia killed my daughter Anna. And eating disorders have killed thousands of Americans since then,” said Kitty Westin, an eating disorder awareness advocate. “It’s time for Congress to pass FREED as a critical first step in addressing this national emergency.”

It is estimated that at least 5 million Americans suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders. Because eating disorders so often go undiagnosed and untreated, the actual number of Americans suffering from eating disorders is closer to 11 million. Tremendous misperceptions about the severity of eating disorders impact the federal resources devoted to eating disorders. First, fatalities resulting from eating disorders are grossly underestimated because they are most often recorded by listing only the immediate cause of death (cardiac arrest, electrolyte imbalance, kidney failure, gastric rupture, pancreatitis or suicide) without reference to the underlying eating disorder. This underreporting is partially responsible for the fact that federal research dollars lag behind research of other diseases when measured by either the number of people affected or by the relative health consequences of eating disorders.

To confront the growing issue of eating disorders, the FREED Act will:

* Expand research on the prevention of and effective treatment of eating disorders: Coordinates research on eating disorders at the National Institutes of Health and across the federal government, and creates research consortia to examine the causes and consequences of eating disorders, and to develop effective prevention and intervention programs.

* Improve the training and education of health care providers and educators: Authorizes grants to medical, nursing, social work and other health professions schools to train health care providers in the identification and treatment of eating disorders, and grants to train teachers and other educators in effective eating disorder prevention, detection and assistance strategies.

* Improve surveillance and data collection systems for tracking the prevalence and severity of eating disorders: Tasks CDC with addressing the lack of accurate information on the incidence and severity of eating disorders. Requires the development of new methods to accurately collect, analyze and report epidemiological data to ensure that the incidence of eating disorders and related fatalities are better understood.

* Prevent eating disorders: Authorizes grants to develop evidence-based prevention programs and promote healthy eating behaviors and in schools, recreational sports programs and athletic training programs.

* Build on existing reform efforts to ensure that treatment is available and affordable: Creates a patient advocacy program to aid people suffering from these diseases and their families negotiate the health care system. Incentivizes states to ensure that adolescents covered by Medicaid are diagnosed and treated

Check it out!

Check out this personal post from Gymhopper over at Buns of Steal.

It's a fitness/gym blogger's post on why she won't be documenting her weight gain/loss as part of her "year of free fitness" experiment.

Recovery in Motion

Recovery in Motion - National Radio Show!

Sunday, May 2, 2010
9:00pm-9:30pm EST

Tune into Recovery in Motion, a national radio show, this Sunday evening!

Jennifer Nardozzi, PsyD, National Training Manager for The Renfrew Center Foundation and Alumni Services Coordinator, will be featured as the guest expert to discuss issues related to body image and eating disorder recovery. She will be joined by Renfrew alumna, Monica Barkley.

Who: Dr. Jen Nardozzi & Monica Barkley

What: ‘Recovery in Motion’ Radio Show
A weekly radio show that talks to those in need of recovery, along with friends and family of those in need of recovery, Recovery in Motion hopes to break down barriers and help addicts, their families and friends stop their behavior and find out where to go for help.

Where: On the radio - WFTL 850 AM (Pompano Beach, FL and surrounding areas) OR on the internet - (LISTEN LIVE online from anywhere in the country!)

When: Sunday, May 2nd, 9:00-9:30pm (EST)

Why: To discuss various issues related to eating disorder recovery.

During the show, you will be able to call in and ask questions by dialing 1-877-850-8585.

Dr. Jennifer Nardozzi will also be on the show on Sunday, May 9th, so be sure to tune in!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Newsweek: Is That Fat Girl Me?

Read the full article here

Imagine you're a relatively thin young woman who thinks she has no issues with food or dieting—certainly no eating disorder. You see a picture of a swimsuit-clad woman with chunky thighs, a noticeable belly and arms that could benefit from a regular triceps routine. Suddenly your brain starts whirring anxiously and you wonder, do I look like that?

Now imagine you're a slim guy, also with no history of eating problems. You see a picture of a man in a swimsuit who looks like he's enjoyed more than his share of fries, beer, and double cheeseburgers. Your reaction is quite different from the woman's—at least according to researchers at Brigham Young University who conducted an experiment just like this.

Neuroscientist Mark Allen and his colleagues used imaging technology to watch brain activity in 19 men and women as they looked at computer-generated pictures of fat people in swimsuits. The nine male subjects in his study didn't appear to make any comparison between a picture of a fat guy and their own bodies. But the part of the brain involved in self-reflection (the medial prefrontal cortex) jumped into action when the 10 women looked at images of fat women, Allen says.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gay men's body image: Do I look fat?

Read the full article here

"Do I look fat?” If you are the kind of guy who asks this question, please read on.

Did you know that there are guys out there who would be excited about being diagnosed with HIV? To them, this news means that prescriptions for steroids and Human Growth Hormone (HGH) are coming their way, along with an attractive muscular physique. Others even half-joke with their friends about getting a tapeworm to lose weight.

Sounds kinda nutty, doesn’t it? But it’s true.

It just goes to show you that you are one step from finding yourself diagnosed with a psychiatric condition from the Big Book of Crazy, if you’re constantly asking others if you’re fat.

Last time I checked – gay men are gay because they have sex with other men, not because they have a certain body type. These days, it seems to me that many gay men will stop at nothing to be muscular or have six-pack abs, as if this is some kind of prerequisite to being an accepted gay man in our community.

This disturbing belief is not confined to Southern California, where “healthy” lifestyles and fat-phobia dominate.

A 2009 study from the University of Iowa showed that photos of male bodies in The Advocate and Out magazines became thinner and more muscular from 1967 to 2008. Gay men in this study compared themselves to images found in media. If their body did not match those found in the images, the men reported dissatisfaction with their bodies and decreased self-esteem.

Gay men returning from circuit parties and pride festivities will likely feel tremendous pressure to achieve or maintain the muscle-bound, fat-free body type that we are constantly surrounded by.

NTY: A Mother’s Loss, a Daughter’s Story

Read the full article here

Documentary Website

ANDREW AVRIN sits on a beige couch in a nondescript room, a fruit still-life partly visible on the wall behind him, twisting his fingers while, off-camera, an unseen interviewer prompts him to talk about his sister, Melissa, who died last year at the age of 19 after a long battle with bulimia.

“There was no food in the house,” he says, looking off to the side as his eyes fill. “If I went out with friends, I could not bring leftovers home because they would be gone by the next morning.”

Once, he explains, in the middle of a bitterly cold night, he looked out the window and saw Melissa on the curb, going through the garbage. “I went outside and I yelled her name,” he recounts in the interview, his voice breaking. “Just the way she looked back at me — it was so empty, vacant. It was a deer in the headlights, but that doesn’t even explain it.”

It is a hard scene for anyone to watch, but even more so for the film’s producer — Judy Avrin, Melissa’s mother, who decided to make a documentary about her daughter’s life and, ultimately, her death.

People deal with grief in their own ways, and those who have been spared the loss of a daughter or a son can only imagine how they would choose to try to cope. For Ms. Avrin, coping meant confronting her anguish and trying to make something good come out of it.

The idea for a film didn’t occur to her immediately. In the weeks following Melissa’s death, Ms. Avrin mostly avoided her daughter’s bedroom, and tried to resume some semblance of normalcy, going back to work three days a week as the coordinator for a consortium of academic libraries in New Jersey. But one day she sat down to read Melissa’s leather-bound journal.

Someday ...
I’ll eat breakfast.
I’ll keep a job for more than 3 weeks.
I’ll have a boyfriend for more than 10 days.
I’ll love someone.
I’ll travel wherever I want.
I’ll make my family proud.
I’ll make a movie that changes lives.

The film, called “Someday Melissa” and now in the editing stages, has become for Ms. Avrin salve, distraction and cause — a way to get the word out to other families grappling with eating disorders that they are not alone; to sound the alarm that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness; to help make sense of the senseless event that was losing her teenage daughter.

“I kept saying, ‘This is an amazing way for me to channel my grief,’ ” Ms. Avrin said. “But it also allowed me to put off grieving.”

Ms. Avrin, 56, got the idea for the film from one of Melissa’s therapists, Danna Markson, who introduced her to Jeffrey Cobelli, 27, a filmmaker. Over the last several months of working on the project, Ms. Avrin has come to know more than she ever intended to about eating disorders — how their seriousness has been underestimated, their treatment underinsured, their deaths underreported.

The process hasn’t been easy, and some, like her ex-husband, initially questioned the impulse to do it at all. Melissa’s best friend since first grade, Nicole Kendrick, who also suffers from an eating disorder, said she was incredulous when she first learned that Ms. Avrin was making the film. “I thought she was crazy,” Ms. Kendrick said. “I guess I didn’t realize how deep a mother’s love can run.”

But Ms. Avrin said that making the film has been easier than doing nothing at all. “I’ve never once thought this was more than I could bear,” she said, in an interview at her home in Totowa, N.J. “If anything, the more I continue, the more I know it’s the right thing to do.”

The difficulty of reliving her daughter’s decline has been mitigated by the public response. “Sometimes I think: ‘I’m a suburban mom. Who am I to think I could make a difference in the world?’ ” Ms. Avrin said. “But then I read the messages that keep coming in from people I know and people I don’t know who say Melissa’s story has motivated them to fight one more day.”

Friday, April 9, 2010

Philadelphia Weekely: Eating Disorders In Jewish Culture

"Eating disorders aren’t just for models and white, middle-class teenage girls anymore. First, there was a spike in middle-aged women seeking treatment. Then, it was gay men. Now, it seems Jewish women are the latest population dying to be thin.

"While the spate of recent articles (“Eating Disorders are the ‘Addiction of Choice’ for Jewish Teens,” “Being Jewish in a Barbie World”) and documentaries present conflicting research about the prevalence of eating disorders within the religion, Jewish leaders and eating-disorder experts agree on one thing: There is definitely a problem."

Read the full article here

Friday, March 26, 2010

NEDA Young Investigator Grants

Young Investigator Grants
The National Eating Disorders Association is announcing the opening of our Young Investigator Research Grants Program for 2010. The Call for Submission process will begin Friday, March 26, 2010.

Submissions are due April 21st, 2010.

General Information
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is pleased to sponsor this small grants program to support research in the areas of eating disorders etiology, prevention and treatment. Through the grants, the organization seeks to expand innovative eating disorders research while supporting investigators in the early stages of their careers in the eating disorders field.

Any junior investigator worldwide who works in the field of eating disorders and has completed their terminal graduate level degree and training is eligible. Trainees (e.g. students, grad students, residents) are not eligible and investigators must be within seven years following the end of their training. Individuals who previously served or currently serve as a principal investigator on a substantial externally funded grant (e.g. RO1, RO3, or K award in the U.S.) are ineligible. 

Terms of Support
There are three research grants available for 2010 totaling $30,000.
    • Three (3) NEDA Young Investigator Grant in the amount of $10,000 each
For more information about research grants, please visit our website.

If you have any questions, please send them to

Best Wishes,
Laurie Vanderboom
Director of Programs
James Mitchell, MD, NEDA Research Committee Chair
UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences

NYT: Ask the Expert: Is it Anorexia, or Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Dr. Katharine A. Phillips, a professor of psychiatry at Brown Medical School, is perhaps the best known authority on Body Dysmorphic Disorder (B.D.D.) and the author, most recently, of “Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder: An Essential Guide” (Oxford University Press, 2009).  Dr. Phillips answers reader questions at the New York Times in this week's Ask the Expert column. 

Q:  Hello Dr. Phillips, thanks for answering questions. Could you clarify the distinction between body dysmorphic disorder and the severe distortion of weight and shape experienced in eating disorders?

I had severe anorexia for years but worked very hard toward recovery. I have seen a psychologist weekly for the past six years, and in that time, I’ve gone from a 15.7 B.M.I. to about a 22.3.

The thing is, although my eating behaviors and weight have changed and I’m now able to live an energetic life that I truly am able to value at this point, I still wake up every day horrified by the hugeness of my “normal”-sized body. I avoid mirrors, malls, shopping, magazines, tight clothes and even touching or looking down at my body (as much as possible) to avoid triggering feelings of complete revulsion and self-hatred that often lead to self-harming.

It’s actually more of a relief to try to believe that I am crazy (as my friends kindly remind me) than to face the “fact” of the body I see and feel. Needless to say, my body shame (over my bone structure, shape, everything) is a huge hindrance to intimacy and a social life. It seems as if B.D.D. is, like eating disorders, genetically and physiologically embedded. So what is the distinction between eating disorders and B.D.D.?

I also wanted to ask this question because the following comment in the New York Times article accompanying the blog post really bothered me. Jane Brody writes:
                "One presumed factor — societal emphasis on looks — is far less important than you
                  might think. Dr. Phillips said the incidence of B.D.D. was nearly the same all over the
                 world, regardless of cultural influences. Also, unlike eating disorders, which mainly
                 affect women seeking supermodel thinness, nearly as many men as women have body
                 dysmorphic disorder."

Point taken — the demographics for B.D.D. are indeed more evenly distributed across gender lines than those for eating disorders (although eating disorders are found in both males and females of all ages and all cultural and environmental backgrounds, it’s still true that women vastly outnumber men with these diseases). But the statement that eating disorders affect women “seeking supermodel thinness” is just plain ignorant, and suggests that people get eating disorders through a kind of vain willfulness. I’m sure this sentiment is found in your work as well. So how do you convince people who don’t know anything about B.D.D. that it’s not just a condition prompted by vanity and narcissism?

A: Dr. Katharine Phillips responds:
Thank you for your question about the distinction between body dysmorphic disorder and eating disorders -– this is a common question.

These disorders do have some overlapping features. Both involve dissatisfaction with one’s appearance and distorted body image. In fact, studies have found that people with B.D.D. and those with eating disorders have equally severe body image preoccupation, dissatisfaction and distress. And some people with B.D.D. are distressed by their weight or the belief that some parts of their body, such as their stomach or hips, are too fat, and they may diet or exercise excessively.

But there are some important differences between B.D.D. and eating disorders. Most people with B.D.D. aren’t preoccupied with their weight -– rather, they most commonly focus on their skin (such things as perceived acne, scarring or skin color), hair (for example, a belief that they’re losing their hair or have too much body hair), or nose. In fact, they can dislike any part of their body, thinking it looks ugly or abnormal, even though it looks normal to others. And B.D.D. doesn’t involve behaviors like binging on food or inducing vomiting to lose weight.

Another difference, as you noted, is that B.D.D. appears to affect nearly as many men as women, whereas most people with an eating disorder are female. There are also some differences in effective treatment approaches. Research studies that have directly compared people with B.D.D. to people with an eating disorder have found, among other things, that those with eating disorders have more psychological symptoms on a scale called the Brief Symptom Inventory, whereas those with B.D.D. have more negative self-evaluations and lower feelings of self-worth because of appearance concerns, more avoidance of activities because of self-consciousness about appearance, and worse functioning and quality of life because of appearance concerns.

Indeed, B.D.D. usually has very negative effects on people’s daily functioning and quality of life. Some people are unable to work, go to school, socialize or have relationships because of their B.D.D.

This brings me to your last question -– B.D.D. is definitely not a condition prompted by vanity and narcissism. It is a serious, and usually treatable, disorder. Typically, people with B.D.D. suffer tremendously, and those with more severe B.D.D. find that their lives are devastated by their symptoms. Some even commit suicide. This brings home what a serious disorder B.D.D. is. The good news is that most people get better with the right treatmennt. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Consumerist: How To Find Affordable Therapy

*Note:  I edited the orginal article to post here to remove some unnecessary lines.  See the whole article at the link above*

The problem is that therapy sounds expensive, but there are actually affordable options out there if you know where to look. Here are some tips.

Look for a training institute.

If you live in a large city, there's a good chance there's some sort of training institution in your area. It's where you'll find post-graduate therapists getting real-world experience before opening up their own practices, and the fees will be a lot lower than what you'll find in a private practice. Many institutes will offer a sliding-scale fee structure and work with people who don't have insurance.

To find these places, do a Google search in your city for the phrases "pyschoanalytic institute," "psychoanalysis institute," or "psychotherapy institute."

Check with the local university.

If there's a school with a psychology department in your town, there's a chance they offer a sliding-scale fee structure for therapy to the student body, or sometimes to the community at large.

Call private therapists in your town and ask for advice.

Some therapists reserve a couple of slots in their patient roster for people who can't afford their normal rates, so it's worth asking directly if you can pay less. Even if the therapist says no, he or she might be able to refer you to someone who you can afford.

Check whether your insurance covers mental health treatments.

Many policies do, although usually they stipulate a specific duration for the treatment (n number of sessions and that's it!). If there's a specific issue or crisis dragging you down, a shorter-term engagement may be enough to help get you back to a productive state again.

Check whether your workplace has an "Employee Assistance Program."

Our commenter speedwell, avatar of snark points out below that your employer might foot the bill for some visits to a therapist: "I went to an excellent therapist who straightened me out and got me functioning in just six sessions. For 'acute' issues, that's often just right, and may work for some 'chronic' depressions and anxieties too."

Don't feel you have to settle for the first person you talk to. There's no predicting how well your personalities will match up, and if it doesn't feel like you can trust or open up to the therapist, it's perfectly okay to try someone else.

It's okay to ask the therapist if he or she is in therapy. Some won't answer because that's not how they roll when it comes to the patient-therapist relationship, but it's not offensive or inappropriate to ask. You may feel more comfortable with a therapist who is also exploring what makes him or her tick.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

NYT: When Your Looks Take Over Your Life

"Is there a part of you that you hate to look at and perhaps try to hide from others? Do you glance at your image in distress whenever you pass a reflective surface?

"Many of us are embarrassed by or dissatisfied with some body part or other. I recall that from about age 11 through my early teens I sat in class with my hand over what I thought was an ugly bump on my nose. And I know a young woman of normal weight who refuses to sit down in a subway car because she thinks it makes her thighs look huge.

"But what if such self-consciousness about a perceived facial or body defect becomes all consuming, an obsession or paranoia that keeps the person from focusing on school or work, pursuing normal social activities, even leaving the house to shop or see a doctor? What if it leads to attempted suicide?

"Such are the challenges facing tens of thousands of Americans who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, or B.D.D., a syndrome known for more than a century but recognized only recently by the official psychiatric diagnostic manual. Even more recently, effective treatments have been developed for the disorder, and its emotional and neurological underpinnings have begun to yield to research."

Read the rest of the article here!

ABC News: Obsession with 'Pure' Food Leads to Eating Disorder

"Can too much of a good thing actually be harmful?

"When it comes to eating healthy foods, the answer may be yes.

"Patients with orthorexia eat healthy food to the point of malnutrition.We are all encouraged to follow a healthy diet, but some people take it too far, limiting their diets to food that they consider to be pure to the exclusion of everything else. Some of them end up with orthorexia, a severe eating disorder.

"Kristie Rutzel, a Richmond, Va., woman in her mid-20s, said she nearly died because of her obsession with healthy food."

Read the full article here!

Updated Treatment Providers List

New Jersey


Treatment Providers - Pennsylvania



Linda Brownback
*Welcome for free advice*
Brownback, Mason and Associates
1702 West Walnut Street
Allentown, PA 18104-6741
Phone: (610) 434-1540
Fax: (610) 434-6775
Treatment Models: Individual sessions, couples sessions, family sessions, nutritional, neuro feedback, bio feedback, biopsychosocial, christian, 12 step, CBT, psychodynamic, family systems, DBT.
Clients Include: Alcohol and drug addiction, adolescents, athletes, body image, children, college students, eating disorders, males, medically ill, self injury, sexual abuse, co-morbid psychiatric disorders, dissociative identity disorder.

Bala Cynwyd

Karyn Scher, PhD
*Welcome to call for free advice.*
1 Presidential Blvd., Suite 113
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004-1207
Phone: (610) 668-9189
Fax: (610) 668-4089
Treatment Models: Family sessions, individual sessions, couples sessions,group sessions, family systems, feminist, cognitive behavior therapy, biopsychosocial.
Clients Include: Adolescents, college students, and athletes, males and females, who suffer from eating disorders, alcohol and drug addiction, and body image issues.

Chester Springs

Geraldine Toland, MSS, BCD
1832 Art School Rd.
Chester Springs, PA, 19425
(610) 827-7812
Treatment Models: Individuals, Couples, Biopsychosocial, CBT, Psychodynamic, DBT
Clients Include: Adolescents, Body Image, College Students, Self Injury, Sexual Abuse, Co-morbid psychiatric disorders.

Hershey, PA

Penn State Eating Disorders Program
*Welcome for free advice*
Penn State M.S. Hershey Medical Center
905 W. Governor Rd. Suite 250
Hershey, PA 17033
Phone: (717) 531-7235
Fax: (717) 531-0067
Treatment Models: Individual sessions, family session, group session, nutritional treatment, psychodynamic, biopsychosocial, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychopharmacology therapy, medical/nutrition stabilization treatment, IPT, and research.
Clients Include: Adolescents, children, and college students, males and females, who are medically ill, and suffer from eating disorders.


Gail Post, PhD
711 West Ave. Suite 2
Jenkintown, PA 19046
(215) 884-9260
Treatment Models: Individual, Family, Couples, Group, CBT, Psychodynamic, Family Systems, Feminist.
Clients Include: Adolescents, Athletes, Body Image, College Students, Eating Disorders, Males, Medically Ill, Self Injury, Sexual Abuse, Co-morbid psychiatric disorders.

King of Prussia

Ellen Davis, PhD
Woodland Forge
3001 Valley Forge Circle G-11, King of Prussia, PA 19406
Phone: (610) 337-7434
Fax: (610) 948-1037
Treatment Models: Individual, Family, Couples, Group, Consultations, CBT, Psychodynamic, Family Systems.
Clients Include: Adolescents, Children 8 years and up, Co-morbid psychiatric disorders.

Alex Goncalves, PhD
Woodland Forge
3001 Valley Forge Circle G-11
King of Prussia, PA 19406
Phone: (610) 337-7434
Fax: (610) 948-1037
Treatment Models: Individual, Couples, Group, Support Group, CBT, Psychodynamic, Family Systems.
Clients Include: Alcohol and drug addiction, females, males, Co-morbid psychiatric disorders.


Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment

4200 Monument Rd
Philadelphia, PA 19131
Phone: (215) 581-5489
Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment is a 147-bed private psychiatric hospital offering a full array of services for the treatment of behavioral health and addictions disorders in adolescents, adults and older adults.

Programs include: Inpatient, Intensive outpatient, Outpatient, Partial and residential
Capabilities include: Dual diagnosis (substance abuse with behavioral health problems), Alcohol and drug addiction, Eating disorders, Women's health, Crisis intervention, Triage and evaluation

The Renfrew Center
475 Spring Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19128
Fax: (215) 482-7390
Treatment Models: In-patient, out-patient, groups, events

Deborah Reeves, MG, PGP,LPC, CGP
*ANAD Support Group* *Welcome for Free Advice*
1528 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 732-1612
Treatment Models: Individual sessions, group sessions, support groups, psychodynamic biopsychosocial, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and feminist.
Clients Include: people who suffer from eating disorders, issues related to body image, self-injury, co-morbid psychiatric disorder, trauma spectrum disorders and sexual abuse.

The Renfrew Center of Radnor
320 King of Prussia Road
Radnor, PA 19087
Programs: Day Treatment, Intensive Outpatient, Outpatient Services
The Renfrew Center is JCAHO accredited. Treatment programs and services are covered by most insurance policies.
Groups: Radnor Outpatient Groups, Adolescent Eating Disorders Group, Young Adult/College Age Eating Disorder Group, Thirty-Something and Beyond Group Emotional Eating Group

Spring House

Lucy S. Raizman, MSW, LCSW, LMFT
*Welcome for free advice*
921A Bethlehem Pike Suite 205B
Springhouse, PA 19477
Phone: (215) 345-4854 ext. 2
Fax: (215) 345-1699
Treatment Models: Individual sessions, couples sessions, family sessions, psychodynamic, biopsychosocial, cognitive behavioral therapy, family systems, dialectical behavior therapy, feminist, EMDR.
Clients Include: Adolescents, college students, who suffer from body image issues, eating disorders and sexual abuse issues.

Yardley, PA

Rachel Millner, PsyD
*Welcome to call for free advice*
301 Oxford Valley Suite 402B
Yardley, PA 19067
Phone: (215)932-9885
Fax: (215) 321-4205
Treatment Models: Individual, and couples sessions. CBT, IPT, Psychosynamic and Feminist.
Clients Include: Adolescents and college students who suffer from eating disorders, body image issues, self injury and co-morbid psychiatric disorders