When They Can't 'Just Eat': Palliative Approaches and End-of-Life Considerations in Adults with Eating Disorders

Presenter: Jennifer L. Gaudiani, M.D., CEDS Founder and Medical Director Gaudiani Clinic
Recorded: April 4, 2017
Series: Goldman-Berland Lectureship in Palliative Medicine
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Anorexia nervosa carries the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, with half of deaths arising from medical complications of starvation, and half from suicide as the disease is so intolerable. As an ego-syntonic disorder (a disease that, paradoxically, steals patients’ lives and values while simultaneously feeling right and precious to the patient), anorexia nervosa is a problem that always resists treatment. How, then, do we know when enough is enough? When have adults with anorexia nervosa suffered enough, and not benefited enough from standard of care, to allow them to seek palliative care options rather than push them to try again for recovery? This talk will explore the complicated concepts and ethical dilemmas important to severe and enduring anorexia nervosa.