Are you worried that you or someone close to you is suffering from an eating disorder? Help is at hand. Here we tell you a little about eating disorders, what to look out for and how we can get you or a loved one the best possible treatment for eating disorders.
What are eating disorders?
Eating disorders are extreme disturbances in eating behaviour, such as obsessively counting calories, following rigid diets, being sick after meals and bingeing on high-calorie foods. Eating disorders tend to fall into three main categories: anorexia (starvation), bulimia (purging after meals or eating binges by vomiting, laxatives or trying to compensate through excessive exercise) and overeating (binge eating or gorging). Eating disorders are more than just poor dietary habits; they’re an illness, involving negative thoughts and a truly distorted body image. People use eating disorders to deal with painful emotions. In general, anorexics tend to use food as a form of control. Bulimics use bingeing to stifle feelings of hurt or anger and purge to combat feelings of self-loathing. Overeaters use food to block our feelings such as anger or loneliness. Those with eating disorders will stop seeing themselves objectively and obsessions with food and weight will start to dominate their lives.
Signs, symptoms and risks of eating disorders
The effects of an eating disorder are too varied to go into here so do take a look at our addiction pages on anorexia, bulimia and overeating. In general though, anorexics are underweight as they are on a harsh regime of restricting food. They can become moody and secretive, pretending that they’ve eaten when they haven’t. Bulimics tend to be a normal weight as purging is ineffective in getting rid of the calories consumed. Look out for your loved one disappearing to the toilet immediately after meal or food missing from the kitchen. Overeaters are often overweight but this isn’t always the case. Again, look out for food disappearing and secret stashes of high calorie food. Eating disorders tend to lead to a self-loathing and depression. And they can be extremely dangerous physically. Anorexia can result in infertility issues, osteoporosis and the shutting down of organs which can lead to death. Bulimia can lead to minor problems such as tooth decay and swollen gland but can also have dangerous effects such as stomach rupture and an electrolyte imbalance and an irregular heartbeat that can be fatal. Overeating can lead to conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and heart disease.
Treatment for eating disorders
Fortunately, eating disorders can be treated successfully by addressing both the physical and psychological issues behind the illness. Treatment is most effective in a residential centre with a structured programme that includes nutritional treatment, cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling and group work. Family therapy is usually recommended as eating disorders are often, but not always, the result of family issues. In addition, many anorexics are teens who need the support and understanding of their parents in order to recover. At Addiction Helper, we’ll find you the most appropriate treatment for your eating disorder and circumstances, and give you and your family all the support you need.