Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Atypical Eating Disorders and binge eating can affect anyone.
Men, children, older women and up to 6% of young women can have an eating disorder. If you have an eating disorder you become over concerned with body shape and weight, but have underlying problems of very low self esteem and difficulties relating with people.
You rarely see yourself as ill and try to avoid discovery of your secret behaviour. Weight loss is seen as the only way to feel better and ‘in control’ of life, so people with an eating disorder generally don’t seek help.
Eating disorders cause physical, psychological and social suffering and can also have a damaging effect on the lives of carers, who are often the first to identify the problem. Eating disorders usually last several years and don’t tend to go away without help.
What is an eating disorder?
An eating disorder means you engage in a variety of behaviours with the aim of controlling your weight, shape or eating. You will attempt to follow a strict diet, but whether you succeed will determine the amount of weight you lose. You may also exercise excessively, binge eat, vomit or misuse laxatives.
You will judge yourself almost exclusively in terms of your shape, weight and control over eating, becoming obsessed with trying to become slimmer, but constantly feeling fat.
What are the effects of an eating disorder?
The physical consequences can affect almost every part of the body and are potentially fatal if there is severe weight loss, vomiting or laxative abuse.
The psychological consequences often include depression, anxiety, obsessional behaviour, drug abuse or self harm.
Social effects can include erratic behaviour, social withdrawal, debt, shoplifting and damage to relationships - including feeding and growth problems in the children of mothers with an eating disorder.
Treatment for eating disorders
Treatment for eating disorders is available, although recovering from an eating disorder can take a long time. It is important that you want to get to better and support from family and friends is invaluable.
Treatment usually involves monitoring your physical health while helping you to deal with the underlying psychological causes of your eating disorder.
Learn more about help and support available in Gloucestershire.