What is an eating disorder?
Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that are neither a "phase" or a choice. They can be harmful, but with the appropriate treatment, recovery is possible.
Whilst there isn't one single cause for an eating disorder to develop, a combination of social, genetic, and psychological factors can increase the chances of one developing in a person. Eating disorders don't discriminate and can happen to anyone, irrespective of age or gender - but they generally begin between 14 and 25 years old.
Characterised by disordered thoughts and actions, many experts believe eating disorders are a form of coping strategy, leading to compulsions in the person that take over their daily life.
Eating disorders can present in a variety of ways
Since each individual is unique, there could be any number of factors contributing to their eating disorder. Negative life experiences, such as a traumatic event, might contribute to the emergence of an eating disorder. When overwhelming emotions of worry and anxiety arise, an eating disorder serves to temporarily alleviate those feelings by channelling the individual's energy into an unhealthy obsession with food, eating or exercise.
As a result of these varying factors, there is no right or wrong way to have an eating disorder. And, when it comes to diagnosis you may not "check all the boxes" you might assume would confirm an eating disorder. Disordered eating is usually defined by eating behaviours that are detrimental to a person's mental, physical, and emotional health.
Our approach to treating an eating disorder fully depends on the indiviual and thier own needs.
What we know about eating disorders
EATING DISORDER FACTS
- Eating disorders affect all genders, all races and every ethnic group
- Eating disorders are most common in individuals between the ages of 14-25 years old but can occur at any age
- Eating disorders have the highest risk of death of any mental illness
- People with eating disorders are commonly high achievers, and often very high-functioning
- Many people with eating disorders look healthy yet may be extremely ill
Common symptoms of eating disorders
- Isolating yourself or avoiding others
- Low confidence and low self-esteem
- Anxiety, especially when eating in front of others
- Preoccupation with food
- Distorted perception of body or weight
- Excessive focus on weight and fear of gaining weight
- Unhealthy/excessive levels of exercise
- Low mood or mood swings
- Other mental health conditions like anxiety, depression or OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
How our award-winning eating disorder specialists can help
The sooner you receive help for your eating disorder the better your chances of recovery are. Research shows that early intervention (seeking treatment within the first 3 years of the disorder) can have a positive impact on the effectiveness of eating disorder treatment. Eating disorders thrive in isolation so if you are worried that you are developing an eating disorder, or you're worried about a friend or loved one then it's important that you raise your concerns and speak to someone who can help.