According to b-eat, an eating disorder charity in the UK, it's estimated that around 725,000 people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder. Around 11% of sufferers are male.
While anorexia and bulimia are the most common forms of eating disorder, two other categories known as EDNOS, or Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified, and BED, or Binge Eating Disorder, are recognised by the DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders. If you've seen the Sequential Psychotherapy video or my Sequential Psychotherapy website you'll be aware that at The Bristol Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy Clinic I steer clear of such terms as 'disorder' or 'irrational' because I understand that many symptoms that people experience have a coherent underlying logic to them.
On the symptoms page I describe what I refer to as The Big Five: stress, anxiety, depression, obsessions, and compulsions. I mentioned that many symptoms are a form of, or combination of, these five. In terms of eating disorders, anorexia falls into the category of symptoms known as obsessions, whereas bulimia tends to fall into the category referred to as compulsions.
Anorexia is a serious condition involving a severe restriction of food intake. It may also involve obsessive or secretive food rituals, self-induced vomiting, and the taking of diet or slimming pills, laxatives or diuretics. Sufferers of anorexia may have significant body-image issues or an obsession with food or exercise. Anorexia is occasionally thought of as a phobia of food or fat.
Anorexia is usually associated with other symptoms such as anxiety, depression, OCD, or low self-esteem. Untreated, anorexia may even result in death from malnutrition or suicide. Sadly anorexia is one of the most common causes of death resulting from a mental health condition.
Bulimia is an eating disorder that involves compulsive eating or binge eating, which is often followed by some form of purging such as self-induced vomiting or intense exercise. Sufferers often use diuretics or laxatives as part of the purging process.
Bulima takes place in cycles and often sufferers can cope for quite a while before the anxiety and tension mount and the urge to binge occurs. Most bulimics will recognise themselves in the compulsion cycle on the compulsive behaviour page.
There are many negative knock-on effects of eating disorders. Both anorexia and bulimia can take a significant toll on your body and your mood. Side-effects might include:
While everyone's symptoms and problems are unique, sufferers of eating disorders tend to share a common psychological and emotional profile that includes:
If you recognise yourself in any of these traits please rest assured that your symptoms are treatable and recovery is possible. Often individuals who have been experiencing eating disorders have had them for a very long time. Some sufferers may experience anxiety at the thought of being without their eating rituals as they provide a sense of comfort or control. They may also worry that treatment may make them less ambitious or driven. Allow me to reassure you that the goal of our work together is to gently explore the underlying conditions that require you to seek comfort and control in this way so that you can finally free yourself of the need and feel comfortably in control and at peace with yourself. I recently worked with a lovely lady who had this to say after our time together:
The decision I made to work on my issues with Seb is perhaps the best and most important decision that I've made in my life to date. That might sound dramatic but after completing my therapy journey with him, I find that I am a very different, more focused, more honest and more positive version of myself. I am truly proud of what I have achieved and I couldn't have done it without Seb. I would absolutely recommend Seb to anyone who wants to deal with any issue that they have - he is warm, engaging, enthusiastic, genuine and above all, very easy to confide in. I will never look back and the future is bright.
L.L.T. - Bulimia
You are warmly invited to join me at The Bristol Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy Clinic or online over Skype to discuss your situation with me in privacy and comfort. From there we will chat about how to help you overcome your symptoms and get you back in control. Why not get in touch to book your FREE initial consultation and start taking the steps towards a brighter future.