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Eating disorders

— dysfunctional relationships with food

Eating disorders and our emotions

A healthy attitude to food is something that many people take for granted. However, for a significant number of individuals, eating disorders can become a dangerous compulsion. Eating disorders can have many different origins but they are often linked to emotional distress. Individuals may use their relationship with food as a survival strategy in order to cope with negative feelings and trauma.

Patterns can vary, but eating disorders tend to fall into four main categories: anorexia nervosa, bulimia, compulsive overeating and orthorexia. Anorexia manifests itself as starvation by avoiding food, bulimia is when an individual binges on food but maintains a normal weight by purging themselves through vomiting, overeating occurs when an individual repeatedly gorges, while orthorexia is an obsession with healthy eating.

The human cost of eating disorders

According to research highlighted by the “National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders” (ANAD), eating disorders have the highest mortality rates of any mental illness. Estimates suggest that between 5% and 10% of anorexics will die within 10 years of contracting the disease.

Eating disorders can affect people from a wide range of backgrounds and problems may start at a young age. Difficulties can stem from a fear of growing up. Others may experience trauma through social interactions or through sexual or physical abuse.

Once an eating disorder takes hold, it creates a perpetual cycle of anxiety and isolation. It requires repeating behaviour to achieve the desired effect. This can involve the use of diet pills, binging, laxatives, excessive food intake and over-exercising.

Recovering from eating disorders

The behaviours and lifestyle factors associated with eating disorders can cause major damage to bodily organs, as well as significant harm to an individual’s mental health.
Thankfully, with professional care and support from qualified clinical experts it is possible to make a good recovery. If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, please contact us.

Useful links:

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous
Overeaters Anonymous

Go to treatment & costs for eating disorders