Beginners Guide: Where Do Eating Disorders Start?

Image showing a women holding a sign for helpAccording to the eating disorder charity BEAT, there are more than 725,000 people in the United Kingdom currently suffering with eating disorders. And contrary to the widely held belief that only females are affected by this mental health problem, statistics show that eleven per cent of those affected are actually male. Those who believe that they or a loved one might be affected by an eating disorder may be left pondering the question “where do eating disorders start”? It is a common question, but the truth be told, it is often difficult to pinpoint the exact cause.

Every person is different and the way that he or she is affected by the comments of others will also differ. For example, one individual may not be bothered about being teased by an older sibling about being chubby, while another person may be deeply affected and could go on to develop an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia because of it.

There are many reasons people suffer with eating disorders, but according to BEAT, there a few different types, with the most common being:

  • Anorexia
  • Bulimia
  • Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
  • Emotional Overeating
  • Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)
  • Disordered Eating

What Causes Eating Disorders?

Wondering where do eating disorders start is often something that family members and friends of affected individuals fret about. They worry about things such as possibly not giving their loved one enough attention, or perhaps they are concerned that maybe it was something said or done that caused the illness to occur.

There is a common belief that social pressure from the media and emphasis on how the female form should be can lead to pressure on young girls to want to be as thin as possible. However, it is important to remember that not everyone who sees thin models will go on to develop an eating disorder.

According to the NHS website, the causes of eating disorders are far more complex and various environmental, genetic, or biological factors are usually at the root of the illness. Nevertheless, there are certain risk factors that can lead to an eating disorder, such as:

  • A family history of mental health problems or substance abuse
  • Being under pressure to be slim for a specific job or sport; for example, ballet dancers or gymnasts
  • Criticism about body shape or weight
  • Mental health problems such as low self-esteem or anxiety disorder
  • Traumatic experiences like being bullied, losing a loved one or being abused
  • Being under stress at work or at school.

How Does an Eating Disorder Start?

Image showing a sample dish with the important daily nutrientsAs with most other addictions, food addiction and eating disorders to not occur overnight. They often develop over a number of years, with friends and family unaware for a long time someone they care for is struggling. While the physical effects of eating disorders such as anorexia or binge eating disorder may be noticeable, other conditions like bulimia can remain under the radar for much longer.

There are some individuals, however, who report having had on and off periods for many years before something triggered a rapid decline in them. It is easy for unhealthy eating habits to become the norm and it is often the case that those affected by eating disorders do not even realise they are ill until their loved ones or friends begin to raise concerns. Even after this, some sufferers are still unable to accept that their eating habits are unhealthy and are causing harm. The issue of where do eating disorders start is a complex one and will be different for every affected individual.

Is It Possible You Could Have an Eating Disorder?

As mentioned above, there is a common misconception that eating disorders affect only young females. In reality though, anyone can be affected no matter how old they are, where they come from, what their race or religion is, or what gender they are. As eating disorders are classed as mental health issues, they are quite complex in terms of how they affect people.

There is no single cause of this illness and not everyone will suffer with the same symptoms. In fact, many individuals with eating disorders will alternate between different types of the illness. Sometimes they may restrict food, which is symptomatic of anorexia while other times they will binge eat and then purge themselves, showing classic signs of bulimia.

If you believe that you might have an eating disorder but are suffering with a variety of symptoms that you cannot classify under one particular type, you should still seek help. It is important that you speak to a GP or other medical professional for advice so that you can get this help. If it is a case that you feel you cannot talk to someone you know for whatever reason, there are plenty of other people, groups, and charities out there who will understand exactly what you are going through and can help you with the next steps.

To learn more about eating disorders, or if you have any concerns that you may be affected, Addiction Helper can assist. Our fully trained advisors and counsellors have experience and knowledge of a variety of illnesses, including eating disorders. They can provide you with information and helpful advice on how to get the help you need.

What Treatment Is Available for Eating Disorders?

As eating disorders are difficult to beat alone, it is advisable to talk to someone as soon as possible. This type of illness can lead to a range of mental and physical health problems and can quickly spiral out of control if left untreated.

The sooner you get the treatment you need, the sooner you can start to look forward to a healthy life and a full recovery. For most people, the first port of call will be their GP. However, it is worth noting that there is a huge demand on the NHS for treatment services. With that in mind, we urge you to get in touch with us here at Addiction Helper today. We can provide you with information about the various treatment providers based around the UK and can help by providing you with a free assessment and referral should you wish. Contact us today for information.

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