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Feb 28, 2016 11:41 AM

New center in Concord for treating eating disorders holds educational panel discussion

CONCORD - New Hampshire has gone without higher levels of care for those suffering from eating disorders for more than a decade. Now a new center in Concord has opened its doors, offering education and support for those dealing with the illness.

In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, the new Cambridge Eating Disorder Center, now open on Loudon Road, held a panel discussion to talk about the services they offer.

"Eating disorders don't discriminate. There's 45,000 people in the state of New Hampshire suffering," said Monica Ostroff, the center's director.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte participated in the event, talking about her support for the federal Anna Westin Act, which is designed to help with early identification of eating orders and improve access to treatment, she said.

Shannon Lagasse, who is recovering from anorexia and now works to educate others about eating disorders spoke about her own battle.

"Once you give in to those obsessive thoughts, once those sort of reign control over your life, those just become your default way of coping with everything," she said.

She recalled a doctor telling her she was in danger of having a heart attack at age 16.

"I don't really want to die, I kind of want to, but I don't really, actually want to," she recalled her thoughts at the time.

Experts say eating disorders arise from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

At Saturday's event, organizers tried to show the audience how an eating disorder can begin and strengthen into an obsession.

"And they understand what to look for so they can help somebody get help, get screened and get healthy," Ostroff said. If a few more people walk away that knowledge, "that would be a wonderful goal to reach today," she said.

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