The NHS says eating disorders affect approximately one in every 250 women and one in every 2,000 men. With a total UK population in excess of 63 million, that means there are potentially 58,000 individuals suffering from some sort of eating disorder in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. That’s a lot of people.
The difficulty with eating disorders is that they can be hidden rather easily among people who are creative. Someone suffering from anorexia, for example, may be able to hide it well enough so that it is not known until symptoms become advanced enough to be severe.
Though there are a number of potentially devastating eating disorders one can suffer from, the three most common are:
- Anorexia – This is a condition in which the sufferer attempts to keep his or her weight as low as possible by not eating. Anorexics usually believe they are overweight even when a visual assessment clearly shows they are substantially underweight.
- Bulimia – Bulimia is similar to anorexia except that the sufferer does not starve him or herself. Instead, a bulimic will engage in binge eating followed by forced vomiting. Some bulimics also use laxatives, in excessive amounts, to make sure their bowels remain empty.
- Binge Eating – Also known more simply as chronic overeating, this is a condition characterised by regularly consuming excessive amounts of food. The binge eater lacks the self-control to stop eating when the body triggers feelings of fullness. The individual usually continues eating just for the sake of doing so, in some cases to combat boredom.
Causes of Eating Disorders
In a clinical sense, eating disorders are psychological issues that may, or may not, be influenced by underlying biological factors. In most cases however, the roots of eating disorders go back to some sort of emotional experience that was improperly handled.
The NHS lists some possible causes associated with eating disorders as follows:
- a family history of unresolved eating disorders
- an overwhelming concern over one’s weight
- pressure from a job requiring certain weight standards
- low self-esteem, obsessive personality disorder, anxiety disorder
- emotionally traumatising experiences
- pronounced relationship problems
- stress due to underperformance at work, school, etc.
An eating disorder is more than just an inconvenience or a bit of harmless eccentricity. It is a serious condition that will usually lead to negative physical consequences if left untreated. Anorexia and bulimia can both result in death, while overeating has been linked to plenty of other diseases including cancer, heart disease, and hypertension and so on.
Symptoms of Eating Disorders
Early recognition of an eating disorder is key to successfully treating it. Although a rehab programme for eating disorders can be useful in any stage, the earlier the treatment begins the better off the patient will be. Learning to recognise the signs of eating disorders is therefore quite helpful.
If you are concerned that you might have an eating disorder, look for the following symptoms:
- you worry you have no control over how much you eat
- you regularly induce vomiting when you’re feeling full
- you believe yourself to be overweight even though others tell you you’re not
- you believe food dominates your life
- you recently lost more than 6 kg within a three-month span.
The fact that you are concerned a possible eating disorder exists is a good first sign. Now you need to act on it. If you have noticed any of the above symptoms, see your doctor right away.
Perhaps you are visiting our website because you are concerned about a loved one. Symptoms you might recognise in someone suffering from an eating disorder include:
- unreasonable concerns of being overweight
- frequently looking in the mirror or using the weighing scales
- frequently avoiding eating by claiming he or she has already done so
- cooking large meals for others but not eating him or herself
- feeling uncomfortable about eating in public places
- regularly missing meals without explanation
- visiting pro-anorexia websites.
It is important to understand that an eating disorder is not likely to go away on its own. If you recognise any of these symptoms in someone else, you will not be helping him or her by ignoring the symptoms and hoping he or she gets better on their own. For the benefit of your friend or loved one, do what you can to intervene before it’s too late.
Eating Disorder Treatment
Because eating disorders are psychological in nature, the only effective treatment is psychotherapy. The most common treatment is something known as CBT rehab. If you have read any of our pages dealing with drug and alcohol addiction, you may already be familiar with this therapy.
Also known as CBT, cognitive behavioural therapy seeks to address the thought patterns associated with psychological disorders. The point here is to recognise how the patient thinks, how those thoughts relate to the eating disorder, and how the thoughts can be reorganised to control future behaviour.
Although CBT is questioned by some for its effectiveness in drug and alcohol treatment, it is highly effective for eating disorders. Also working in its favour is the fact that CBT is not an open-ended therapy. The therapist works together with the patient to devise a clear set of goals that can be worked through in a steady, purposeful manner.
Once CBT is complete, the patient is well on the way to recovery. If follow-up therapies are necessary, they are made available.
As a confidential referral and consulting organisation, our job is to connect you with the help you need for an eating disorder. While you could research treatment options on your own, it is a time-consuming and confusing process that can leave you frustrated. We make it easy by doing all of the research for you.
By getting in touch with us, you will have quick access to the therapy options you need. We will help you assess your circumstances and advise you on the therapy that is most appropriate. We will also do our best to answer all of your questions regarding treatment financing and length. Whatever we can do to help you get well, we will do.