JOPLIN, Mo. — The holidays can be extra challenging for someone living with an eating disorder. But if you are unexpectedly exposed to another patient’s struggle through a movie or social media – it could trigger a bout of PTSD.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Jenny Copeland says the challenge comes from watching an eating disorder play out in front of you.

“And it can feel, I mean, it’s hard to watch your problems play out in front of you. And I think that’s true of any problem that we might have. But seeing it happen can trigger something in you and trigger memories and emotions and be easy to sorry, back down that path. But it’s just this kind of surprise and it’s a flood of all of those emotions and memories and sensations that go with that,” said Dr. Copeland.

If you know to expect it, it can be part of the healing process. But that’s not the case when you don’t expect it.

“Definitely the surprise of it can have a big impact and I know a lot of folks talked about you know, turning that on because we’re all curious.”

The goal is to be prepared when you watch something, and even use it as a building block.

[B]ut there’s there are a lot of ways and even in therapy that we can use movies and TVs and clips like that as a teaching tool, and doing it alongside alongside them and having that discussion. There’s even some places around some of these things where they create discussion guides. So you can talk about those things which is great,” said Dr. Copeland.