Eating disorders include a number of conditions with the common theme of an unhealthy relationship with food. The most common conditions are:
It is common for young people, particularly girls although increasingly boys, to feel they need to be thin, and for some to resort to an unrelenting pattern of restrictive dieting, binge-eating and vomiting in an attempt to achieve this. Such problems are associated with considerable emotional stress, difficulty concentrating, feeling depressed and becoming obsessive about eating.
There are also major physical health risks. A range of body systems are affected including the stomach, liver, bone development and reproductive system. If vomiting is occurring, additional damage can be inflicted on the teeth and kidneys.
Eating disorders are remediable. When people are trapped in this behaviour it tends to be rather secretive and not spoken about. Acknowledging the problem to at least one other person and looking for guidance from self-help literature can be the start of a process of recovery.
Your GP is the best person to approach even if you ultimately seek help privately. They can refer you to a specialist counsellor, psychiatrist or psychologist. Treatment will depend on the condition but will usually combine talking treatments such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and advice on eating and nutrition leading to healthy weight gain. The use of medication in the treatment of eating disorders is generally only recommended to treat any co-existing symptoms such as depression or obsessive compulsive disorder.
Our consultants will be able to treat you in our out-clinics. However, if weight loss is severe, they may suggest treatment is started in a hospital.