Information » Health » Emotional and Mental Health » Eating Disorders
Anyone can develop an eating disorder although most likely it will happen in young women aged 15-25 and over 1.1million people in the UK are directly affected by an eating disorder.
The term eating disorder covers a wide range of problems with food, including starving (anorexia), and bingeing and purging (bulimia) and binge eating. The reasons and causes are varied and complex.
Eating disorders are often, but not always, associated with negative body image and low self esteem. It can also be an attempt to regain control when the person has been in a situation where their control has been taken from them.
- Have a fear of gaining weight, they feel fat even when they have lost so much weight that it becomes obvious to others
- They may starve themselves by only eating tiny quantities of food
- They often hide food; follow complicated plans to avoid food and to appear heavier than they are
- Some may pretend to have eaten when they have not
- They may exercise vigorously, use laxatives or make themselves sick in order to lose more weight
- A girl's period may stop or never start
- They may look overweight or underweight and it is often difficult to detect. They have great difficulty controlling their eating sometimes eating strictly or giving in to periods of bingeing
- The food they often eat is often high in calories, fat or carbohydrate. As a person begins to feel full feelings of shame and guilt can overwhelm them. It is those feelings that trigger the need to purge
- Continuous bingeing and vomiting can do serious harm to the body
- Regular use of laxatives can lead to bowel disease and lack of essential minerals can result in organ failure and death
Eating disorders develop relatively slowly, with the behaviours involved becoming more complicated. It is important to get support as soon as possible. Treatment can include care in hospital, treatment from GPs, dieticians, self help. Support from friends and family is very important.