Castle Medical Centre - February/March 24
Eating Disorder Awareness Week - 26th February to 1st March 2024
Around 1.25 million people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder, many in secret. People of all ages, genders and backgrounds. Eating disorders are complex mental health issues and cause stress, anxiety and depression, in a vicious circle.
Eating disorders include bulimia, binge eating disorder, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED) and anorexia, which has the highest mortality rate of any mental health illness. But all eating disorders can be deadly.
Many people suffering from eating problems will tend to hide this, especially young adults. They will do so by avoiding people and becoming more reclusive. Some of the warning signs include weight loss, wearing baggy clothes, avoiding meals with family or eating very restrictive foods, going to the bathroom a lot after eating and lying about how much they have eaten.
We recently spoke to a patient of ours, who wanted to share a message on their journey of support and recovery.
“Anorexia was our family’s unwelcome guest. It arrived in the first lockdown when nobody knew the extent of Covid, and support was limited. Anorexia is secretive and likes to isolate and control, lockdown was its optimal environment. Often, people suffer from an eating disorder when struggling with low self-esteem and feeling out of control. Hidden away from school, friends and hobbies allowed Anorexia to thrive and plant false thoughts in our daughter’s head.
“We had to act fast. CAMHS offered some support and Beat (www.beat.co.uk) was invaluable. We found useful online resources, in particular, a TED talk (tinyurl.com/teds-ed), where an eating disorder doctor used the continuous sound of a crackly radio to demonstrate the noise in an eating disorder sufferer's brain during mealtimes. Watching that helped to separate Anorexia from our daughter and to accept Anorexia as an illness, not a choice. As parents, we struggled with feeling we couldn’t fix or help our daughter. Anorexia doesn’t want to get better; it’s competitive, and the best Anorexic is the sickest Anorexic. Unfortunately, our daughter did become very ill, and it was clear she needed inpatient support. There are a limited number of specialist eating disorder hospitals, and if there was a bed, it could be anywhere in the country. Luckily, she was admitted to the closest hospital, just one hour away!
“After nearly a year in the hospital, our daughter was ready to recover, and this was when we, as parents, could help. She had outpatient support from CAMHS and private therapeutic support, and we provided a home environment where she felt safe enough to challenge difficult thoughts. Eating disorders do not discriminate against age, gender, or ethnicity, nor are they about food but control. Just because someone looks okay does not mean they feel okay.”
Eating Disorder Awareness Week is an annual event that aims to promote awareness of eating disorders and spread hope for those in recovery and their families. With the right treatment and support, recovery is possible.
For support and help
Contract the practice for early intervention.
Or, contact Eating disorder charity Beat on their helplines: Adults 0808 801 0677 or Youths 0808 081 0711.
Online advice for family and friends
Dr Suparna Behura
GP Partner and Trainer
Monday-Friday – 8.00am-6.30pm
Tel – 01926 857331
Facebook – @CastleMedKenilworth
Twitter – @Castle_Med
22 Bertie Road, Kenilworth, CV8 1JP