Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders are a very serious set of conditions and if you think that you may have an eating  disorder it is important that you seek help as soon as you can. Your GP will be able to check your physical health and refer you to us.

Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia is a serious eating disorder that affects roughly 1 in 100 young people per year. Anorexia is characterized by people worrying a lot and being preoccupied with their weight and their body. Typically, people with anorexia are very frightened about putting on weight and go to extreme lengths to lose weight, even if they are already classed as underweight. Anorexia raises strong feelings for all those who are touched by it: the individuals, their families, friends, relatives and other adults in their lives. A young person with anorexia may have a lot going on in their life that they cannot control: taking control of their
eating is one way of getting a sense of control in their life. They may judge themselves very harshly and believe they are fat even if other people tell them that they are thin. Eating problems like anorexia are not just about food, they are about feelings too. We do not know what causes someone to develop an eating disorder and it is likely that a number of factors contribute such as:

Control – losing weight can make us feel good and in control. 
Longstanding unhappiness which may show itself through eating. 
Puberty – anorexia reverses some of the physical changes of puberty. You can see it as putting off some of
the challenges of becoming an adult. 
Family – saying “no” to food may be the only way you can express your feelings. 
Depression – binges may start off as a way of coping with unhappiness. 
Low self-esteem. 
Social pressure – Western culture, particularly the media, idealizes being thin. 
Genes may play a part.

Symptoms of anorexia include: losing a lot of weight quickly, eating less and less food, thinking about the calorie content of food, feeling panicky about eating food with other people or having a big meal; feeling moody or irritable because of the lack of food; feeling cold; feeling depressed and unable to concentrate. Girls’ periods may stop and boys may stop having erections. Anorexia is a serious eating disorder and the longer terms consequences can be severe such as developing weak or brittle bones and affecting the ability to have children. Ultimately, if left untreated, anorexia can result in death and although it is often very difficult for an individual with anorexia to accept help, it is very important that help is sought as soon as possible.

Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia is an eating disorder that shares much in common with anorexia but typically involves patterns of eating that includes binges and attempts to ‘purge’. Again, Bulimia is not all about food, it is about feelings too and people with bulimia may experience a number of symptoms such as: poor sleep, poor concentration, depression, loss of interest, preoccupation with their body and food, tiredness and irritability. People who are inducing vomiting may:

Eventually lose the enamel on their teeth
Get a swollen face
Have palpitations
Feel weak and tired

Experience huge weight swings 
Get kidney damage 
Have seizures 
Be unable to get pregnant

When young people come to us with an Eating Disorder we work hard to understand the underlying issues and provide access to a multidisciplinary team to start to make healthy changes. More information can be found by following these links:

Royal College of Psychiatrists
http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfoforall/problems/eatingdisorders/eatingdisorders.aspx

Young Minds:
http://www.youngminds.org.uk/for_children_young_people/whats_worrying_you/anorexia
http://www.youngminds.org.uk/for_children_young_people/whats_worrying_you/bulimia

National Guidelines:
http://www.nice.org.uk/