This week (1st to 7th March) is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Did you know 1.25 million people in the UK alone are affected by eating disorders each year? This is why it is so important to create awareness and start conversations about eating disorders as they are surrounded by stigma and often misunderstood.
What are eating disorders?
Eating disorders are mental health disorders where the person controls their food intake and uses it as a way to cope with their emotions. People with eating disorders are usually hyper focused on their body weight. The three most common eating disorders are:
- Binge-eating disorder (BED) - where people eat excessive amounts and feel they aren’t in control of what they are doing
- Anorexia nervosa – characterized by weight loss where people generally restrict the number of calories and they type of food they eat
- Bulimia nervosa – where people are caught in a cycle of eating large amounts of food (binging) and then compensating for that overeating by vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretic, fasting, or exercising excessively (purging).
What causes eating disorders?
The cause of eating disorders differs from person to person, but is usually caused by some sort of mental trauma. There are many factors that can contribute to developing an eating disorder. For example, being bullied about your weight or being unsatisfied with the way their body looks (body dysmorphia).
Can eating disorders be treated?
YES! However, there are many different methods of treating an eating disorder. It also depends on the type of disorder you have and the severity of the disorder. Treatment usually combines monitoring the patient’s physical health and addressing their psychological problems too. People suffering from eating disorders often suffer from anxiety and depression and medication can be used to help with those symptoms.
One example of a common psychological therapy is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on identifying, challenging and changing behaviours that enable eating disorders. CBT breaks down problems into five main categories which are situations, thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and actions. The main aim of CBT is to stop negative thought cycles.
People with eating disorders often feel like they are alone with their eating disorder. If you are suffering from an eating disorder or know someone who might be then it is important to remember there are always people to help and there are people who have gone through the same thing and have made a full recovery.
Here is a list of websites where you can find out more about eating disorders and get help: