A special campaign to raise awareness and understanding of eating disorders, challenging stereotypes and stigmas, is running from 25 February to 3 March. We are calling on local residents this Eating Disorders Awareness Week to ‘sock it to eating disorders’ by being aware of the warning signs and the treatment that is available.
On average, 149 weeks pass before those experiencing eating disorder symptoms seek help. Recognising the signs is an important first step for a sufferer or their friends and family. Warning signs of an eating disorder include: missing meals, obsessively keeping track of weight, complaining about being fat - even when a normal weight, and refusal to eat in public places.
There are a number of treatments available for eating disorders, including: cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy, dietary counselling, family therapy and medication. The best way to access these treatments is to talk to a GP. They will be able to offer advice and guidance and refer patients to eating disorder specialists.
The three most common eating disorders include:
• Anorexia - when a person takes extreme actions to keep their weight as low as possible, such as, starving themselves.
• Bulimia - when a person binge eats for a period of time and is then deliberately sick to try to control their weight.
• Binge Eating Disorder (BED) - when a person eats large amounts of food, over a short space of time.
Dr Nick Harding, Chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said:
“Eating disorders are the most life-threatening of all psychiatric illnesses and can cause heart failure and affect the body’s system therefore the illness should be taken very seriously.
“There are many reasons someone might feel unable to seek treatment. Feelings of shame and low self-esteem can make people feel they don’t deserve help, and uncertainty about what treatment consists of can make people feel anxious. Yet it’s usually very difficult for people with eating disorders to get better on their own, so it’s important that people find professional help and support as soon as possible. The sooner someone is treated for an eating disorder, the better their chance of making a full recovery.”
The eating disorders charity, Beat, estimates that there are over 1.6 million people struggling with an eating disorder throughout the UK*. Whilst many of these have been diagnosed and are receiving treatment, many more remain undiagnosed and at risk of their eating disorder becoming progressively worse and leading to a whole host of distressing symptoms and long-term problems.
Beat’s helpline services provide support and information 365 days a year. Call the Helpline on 0808 801 0677 or 0808 801 0711 for the Youthline. People can also visit the NHS Choices to find out what local services are available by entering their postcode at https://bit.ly/2CsGdBk. For further information about Eating Disorders Awareness Month visit https://bit.ly/2FhzOep