Many different research studies have been carried out into the effects of eating disorders in the United Kingdom, and each one has returned slightly different results.
A similar finding across all of these studies though is that the number of people with eating disorders in the UK continues to rise, and this trend is alarming for mental health professionals.
Eating disorders are very complex. They involve both a physical health component as well as a mental health one, both of which need to be addressed as part of any successful treatment. Tragically, both men and women from all age groups die each year due to untreated eating disorders. This does not need to happen, as holistic, integrated treatment approaches can result in very positive outcomes, with clients able to make positive changes, address the causes of their disorder and learn effective coping skills to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.
One of the most challenging aspects of these conditions is the ability of the individual to hide the disorder, often until there is significant weight loss, weight gain, or other health conditions. Anorexia is the leading cause of death in patients diagnosed with a mental health disorder in the UK.
Eating disorders can occur at any age, but people between the ages of 14 to 25 are most likely to be at risk. Anorexia nervosa is diagnosed most commonly in 16-17 year-olds, while Bulimia Nervosa is most often diagnosed in 18-19 year-olds in the UK.
Unfortunately, at this age young people are often encouraged by peers - and even parents - to lose weight and become fit. The problem for the individual is the inability to moderate the way they go about their weight loss; the extreme exercising or the binging and purging behaviours based around food.
People with eating disorders can become very adept at hiding their weight loss, or avoiding eating in public. In hectic households with busy teens and young adults, this change in behaviour and eating patterns can be easily missed. Changing their style in clothing and dressing to hide the change in their body can also make detecting the issue more difficult, until the change in weight has become significant.
It is important to seek not only medical care for someone with an eating disorder, but also mental health care. The professionals at the Mayfair Therapy Practice have extensive expertise and experience in working with children and young adults, as well as men and women with eating disorders.
An eating disorder is not only about food, nor is it about weight - though they are related. There are many factors that can contribute including genetics, depression, anxiety or trauma; symptoms that will be present before the behaviour of an eating disorder begins.
Often people who develop eating disorders are very high achievers, with extremely high standards for themselves. Failing to meet these standards triggers a need to control their life, which leads to control of their bodies through extreme and unhealthy control of their diet. Additionally, these individuals may also have low self-esteem, constantly setting themselves up to reach a level of perfection they cannot possibly achieve. This becomes a pattern, and a vicious cycle.
Through therapy it is possible to challenge and change negative thoughts and behaviours based around self-esteem and self-awareness, and to start developing a healthier body image. This change in underlying issues, allows the individual to truly love themselves for who they are.
If you are concerned about issues around weight loss, negative body image or low self-esteem, it may help to talk to a trained professional.
Contact us by email or call us on 07809 668193 to find out more, or to arrange contact with one of our eating disorder specialists.
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