What are eating disorders?
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.
Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Atypical Eating Disorders 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 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.
On this page
If you feel you may have an eating disorder, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Visit your GP as a first step to getting the help you need.
How we may help, and some of the treatments on offer.
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 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.
Our teams and services
Where to find us, and which services can help you.
Living with a mental health condition
Information for patients and carers on the wider aspects of living with a mental health condition.
Mental illness can affect many areas of your life. This section has information on many aspects of your daily life, from physical health to work, education and recovery. Select an area below to learn more:
Five Ways to Wellbeing
- Connect with people - your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Speaking to people over the telephone or online can help, but there’s nothing like being in the company of others to boost your mood.
- Get active - take a walk, go cycling, join a dance class, go swimming or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life. Anything that raises your heart rate – even cleaning the house – can help.
- Keep learning – give yourself a sense of achievement and a new confidence. Why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, learn a new language, or figure out how to fix your bike?
- Give - even the smallest act can count - whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you make new friends.
- Be mindful - be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness ‘mindfulness’ and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
These are proven techniques to help boost your general wellbeing and they are things we can all incorporate into our daily lives. If you want to make your mental health and wellbeing a priority, following these steps is a good place to start.
Drugs and alcohol
Support in Gloucestershire
CGL Gloucestershire is a free and confidential drug and alcohol service for adults (including offenders), families, carers and affected others. They provide information, support, advice and treatment options from three main hubs across the county - Cheltenham, Gloucester and Stroud. They also work from a range of other locations including pharmacies and community venues. https://www.changegrowlive.org/content/cgl-gloucestershire
Support in Herefordshire
Addaction Herefordshire offers information, advice and support for people with drug and alcohol issues every weekday, and on alternative Saturdays. There is a young people’s service for those aged 11+. Their recovery-focused service has bases in Hereford as well as outreach via partner organisations. They aim to support people to overcome their issues and develop the skills necessary to go on to live a fulfilling life in recovery. They also support the families of people with substance misuse issues. www.addaction.org.uk/services/addaction-herefordshire
Money and mental health
Money and mental health are often linked. Poor mental health can make managing money harder and worrying about money can make your mental health worse. This website gives information about the relationship between money worries and mental health, with suggestions on how to address them.
The Money Advice Service is also a good source of information and support around money and debt.
- your name
- date of birth
- any other information which would help locate your file
Please note: there may be a charge for this service. If you think that information in your health records may not be accurate, please notify us in writing.
Pregnancy and mental health
Taking your medication whilst pregnant
If you are on medication, or specific medication has been suggested to you, the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website is a helpful resource. This free service gives the most up-to-date, evidence-based information for women and their families. This website is an excellent resource but please still discuss any medication changes with your doctor.
Did you know?
- Smoking is the primary reason for the 10 to 20 year shortened life expectancy for people with a mental health disorder. Smoking causes cancer, cardio vascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- People with mental health conditions consume 42 per cent of all tobacco bought in the UK
- Many think smoking is a mood enhancer - in fact it causes depression, stress and anxiety
- Smokers have a 79 per cent increased risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease
These are just some of the reasons why cutting down or giving up smoking altogether can have a huge impact on improving your health and wellbeing.
How to get help quitting
- If you are one of our service users, ask to speak to a Smokefree Champion or Quit Advisor
- If you live in Gloucestershire, visit hlsglos.org or ring 0800 122 3788
- You can also call the national Smokefree helpline on 0800 022 4332 (Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am to 5pm)
- GPs can provide advice and prescriptions for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products and most surgeries have nurses who offer a stop smoking service
- The national Smokefree website includes a wide range of support options and advice
Information for professionals
Notes on services, contacts and treatments for healthcare professionals.
News and views
News stories linked to eating disorders and related conditions.
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we are sharing stories of how people have benefited from ²gether services. Helen, age 40, from Gloucestershire, contacted Let’s Talk on the advice of her GP. She said: “My GP advised me that the chronic teeth grinding I had...read more
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we are sharing stories of how people have benefited from ²gether services. Sarah, from Cinderford, was referred to Let’s Talk by her GP, following a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), linked with stress,...read more
Stress is the focus of a series of events being held to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from May 14 to 20. Alex Burrage is Clinical Lead for ²gether’s Let’s Talk service, which supports people experiencing mental health conditions such as anxiety,...read more
If you’re experiencing stress, anxiety, depression or similar issues, there’s now a new way of getting support through digital therapies on the NHS. Let’s Talk is the local psychological therapies service provided free to anyone aged over 18 and registered with a...read more
Social media can be a force for good, encouraging users to turn to a supportive community that's been there. Instagram has already shown its commitment to mental health awareness by banning hashtags like #thinspo and allowing users to anonymously report another...read more
Jenny, from Herefordshire, first entered mental health services when she was 16, and at 19 she was diagnosed with clinical depression by a GP. She says surviving or thriving is a powerful message. She said: “Surviving or thriving is an amazing message and has been key...read more
²gether NHS Foundation Trust is supporting the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) campaign to encourage people to seek support and help when experiencing depression. Recently released figures from the WHO show that, globally, depression is the leading cause of ill...read more
There is good evidence from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) that self-help books can help people understand and manage common conditions, including depression and anxiety. At Let’s Talk we prescribe self-help books on a daily basis....read more
We do have a considerable number of men accessing Let’s Talk. For example 1,082 men accessed support through Let’s Talk between 1 April 2016 and 30 September 2016. However, it is true to say that more women use the service than men and there may be many reasons for...read more
Waterstones joins fight against mental health stigmaread more