This post talks about the mental disorder that affects both males and females across the globe. According to the Health Research Board in 2017, 14% of all psychiatric admissions were due to eating disorders among child and adolescent. A massive 89% of of all eating disorder admissions were women, and 11% men. I recently posted about the stigma surrounding mens mental health here, and might be interesting topic to revise in terms of eating disorders and men.
An eating disorder is when you have an unhealthy attitude towards food.
It can involve:
- eating too much
- eating too little
- becoming obsessed with your weight and body shape
Men and women of any age can get an eating disorder. It usually develops first in the teenage years.
How to know if you have an eating disorder
If you have an unhealthy relationship with food that’s affecting your eating habits.
Symptoms of eating disorders include:
- spending a lot of time worrying about your weight and body shape
- avoiding socialising that involves food
- eating very little food
- making yourself sick or taking laxatives after you eat
- exercising too much
- having very strict habits or routines around food
- changes in your mood
You may also notice physical signs, including:
- feeling cold, tired or dizzy
- problems with your digestion
- your weight being very high or very low for someone of your age and height
- not getting your period for women and girls
Warning signs of an eating disorder in someone else
It can often be very difficult to identify that a loved one or friend has developed an eating disorder.
Warning signs to look out for include:
- dramatic weight loss
- lying about how much and when they’ve eaten, or how much they weigh
- eating a lot of food very fast
- going to the bathroom a lot after eating, often returning looking flushed
- exercising too much
- avoiding eating with others
- cutting food into small pieces or eating very slowly
- wearing loose or baggy clothes to hide their weight loss
Getting help for an eating disorder
If you think you may have an eating disorder, even if you aren’t sure, see your GP as soon as you can.
Your GP will ask you questions about your eating habits and how you’re feeling. They’ll also do a full health check.
If you have an eating disorder, your GP should refer you to an eating disorder specialist.
It can be very hard to admit you have a problem and ask for help. It may make things easier if you bring a friend or loved one with you to your appointment.
Treatment for eating disorders
It is important to remember that you can recover from an eating disorder, but it may take time. Recovery will be different for everyone.
The specialist will talk to you about any support you might need and include this in your treatment plan.
Treatment will be different depending on the type of eating disorder you have. It will usually involve some kind of talking therapy.
You may need regular health checks if it is having an impact on your physical health.
Guided self-help programmes have been effective with bulimia and binge eating.
Most people have one-to-one therapy but group therapy may also be an option.
What causes eating disorders?
We don’t know exactly what causes eating disorders.
You may be more likely to get an eating disorder if you:
- have a history of eating disorders, depression, or alcohol or drug addiction
- are criticised for your eating habits, body shape or weight
- are overly-concerned with being slim
- have anxiety, low self-esteem, an obsessive personality, or are a perfectionist
- have been sexually abused
- you’ve been bullied