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UPMC On Topic Video Transcript: COPE (Center for Overcoming Problem Eating) at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic

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Jennifer Wildes, PhD
Research Director, COPE
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh

I think the three primary reasons why somebody should seek treatment at COPE are:

  • First, we have been treating eating disorders for more than 30 years, so we have the expertise necessary to work with a range of eating disorder presentations.
  • We have expertise to work with children, adolescents, adults, males, females, and individuals with all forms of eating pathology.
  • And finally, COPE is one of the nation’s few eating disorder specialty programs that’s housed in an academic medical center, and that really sets us apart from the competition in terms of our ability to work effectively with a broad range of eating disorder presentations.

We have many research programs going on and so our patients benefit from the education and ongoing research that occur here at COPE and throughout the UPMC hospitals. We can offer state-of-the-art care, evidence informed care, and tailor our treatments based on the most current knowledge about eating disorders and their treatment.

The treatment team at COPE includes a range of specialists. We have psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, other medical professionals, and dieticians, and each of these individuals works with patients:

  • To address nutrition stabilization and medical stabilization;
  • To address the psychological aspects of eating disorders, weight and shape concerns as well as other mental health problems that often go along with eating disorders like depression and anxiety; and
  • To work with families and loved ones of individuals with eating disorders.

You certainly need a large institution if you are going to work with acutely ill individuals with eating disorders.So there are, of course many, ranges of eating disorder presentation and many ranges of eating disorder severity, but if you are going to work with individuals who have the most severe eating disorders, like we do at COPE, you really do need to have an integrated treatment team, access to specialized medical care, and access to multiple levels of care, the inpatient, the day hospital and other intensive outpatient programs.

So, things to look out for if you are concerned that your loved one might have an eating disorder:

  • Rapid or significant weight loss over a period of time. So, we are not talking about fluctuations of 1 or 2 pounds. We are talking about, you know, losing 15 or more pounds in a period of time.
  • Changes in a person’s eating habits. So, for example, a child who once loved hamburgers and steaks and everything else all of a sudden has become, you know, an extremely strict vegan, is limiting a lot of the foods that they are willing to eat, showing sort of rigid behaviors around eating, only being willing to eat at certain times or cutting foods into a lot of pieces.

Loved ones and family members have nothing to lose by calling COPE and just running over the symptoms that they are concerned about and asking for advice about what we would consider to be an appropriate next step.

Most likely, that’s going to be an evaluation where we are just going to meet with the patient, meet with the family member or loved one, as long as we have the patient’s permission to do so, and, and just learn a little bit more about what’s going on. And that will allow us to make recommendations accordingly.

For more information, contact COPE at 1-877-624-4100.

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