My experience with psychiatry as a
specialty during medical school focussed mainly on general adult
and inpatient psychiatry – eating disorders were simply not a huge
focus on the curriculum. So when bursary opportunities became
available for the Eating Disorders Section Annual Conference, I was
lucky enough to be successful in my application to attend.
This year’s conference focussed on the medical
manifestations and management of eating disorders, with several
high profile speakers in attendance.
The first section discussed bone health in
those with eating disorders. Dr Sanjeev Patel (Consultant
rheumatologist at Epsom & St Helier’s NHST) ran through the
pathophysiology of what to expect in women with eating disorders
and covered medical interventions for the ensuing osteoarthritis
and osteopenia as an adjunct to psychiatric interventions.
Dr Debra Katzman from the Hospital for Sick
Children at the University of Toronto summised that transdermal
oestrogens are more effective than the oral equivalent for bone
health in those with eating disorders. Overall, the evidence base
presented showed clear long-term health benefits through bone
interventions in the eating disorder population.
The second section saw Professor Rona
Moss-Morris from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London
map a CBT approach of irritable bowel syndrome onto the treatment
of eating disorders, drawing several similarities between the
cognitive processes in these two, seemingly different, patient
Professor Helen Mason from St George’s,
University of London presented her work on the use of pelvic
ultrasound as a staging tool in the recovery from eating disorders
in women. The results were very promising, correlating endometrial
thickness with the stage of the disease.
Functional neurobiology of
The delegates were treated to an inspiring
talk from Professor Morten Kringelbach (University of Oxford and
Aarhus, Denmark), where he presented his internationally renowned
work on the functional neurobiology of pleasure. He suggested ways
in which his work and methodologies could be used to understand the
cognitive challenges that eating disorder sufferers must
...this should not be seen as a quick fix in the way that
lobotomies once were.
In an appropriate digression, Professor
Kringelbach also explored the future of therapeutic deep brain
stimulation in psychiatry, but also warned that this should not be
seen as a quick fix in the way that lobotomies once were.
Into the unknown
The day concluded with presentations
from large multi-centre treatment trials for anorexia nervosa.
Interventions compared ‘best supportive treatment’ to experimental
talking therapies and different types of family therapies.
The conference was well run and drew on some
enthralling speakers. Debates that followed presentations were
often lively and intellectually stimulating. The only negative
would be that I am now even more confused about which higher
speciality I want to pursue in the future!
This conference offered an opportunity to
experience a sub-speciality of psychiatry that few get to see
during their undergraduate training. I strongly recommend RCPsych
Student Associates to pursue any bursaries on offer to attend
events like these. They really are valuable and allow you to gain
an insight into the relatively unknown parts of the speciality.