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TW: This article discusses distressing themes around eating disorders that may be triggering to some, if this is you, please click off and go find another article to divulge in!
Regardless of age, sex, gender or race, anyone can develop an eating disorder. Eating disorders don’t have a certain look and are personal to everyone, yet they are all valid and warrant help. Eating Disorders Awareness Week is run by beateatingdisorders.org.uk and aims to raise funds to support their vital services and campaign on behalf of those affected. This year’s campaign runs from February 28th – March 6th and their 2022 focus is on introducing proper eating disorder training to all UK medical schools.
It is estimated that eating disorders affect 1 in 50 people in the UK, these devasting mental illnesses rely on GPs to spot those early signs, regardless of someone’s appearance. However, less than two hours of medical school training is given on eating disorders, leading to sometimes deadly consequences and misdiagnosis. If you would like to find out how to support their current campaign and further educate yourself on this topic, please use the link below.
Lack of education leads to an array of myths surrounding eating disorders, this article will aim to debunk a few.
- ‘Eating disorders are a choice that people can snap out of’. EDs cannot be further from this, they are complex medical and psychiatric illnesses that people do not choose or cause. They commonly occur alongside other mental health conditions and genetic research has shown that biological factors place a significant role. Eating disorders should be treated with the same respect as any other mental illness and are not the fault of the patient.
- ‘They won’t recover until they uncover the reason, they developed their eating disorder’. Although some people can point to an event in their life where they believe their eating disorder stemmed from, it is not uncommon for eating disorders to start without specific reason. There is no evidence that uncovering the cause results in recovery either and instead treatment should be focused on the person’s health and changing their mindset surround food.
- ‘An eating disorder isn’t a big deal’. In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric illness and all of them have similar mortality rates. People struggle with eating disorders not only struggle with food, but their entire quality of life is affected.
Eating disorders can be difficult to diagnose and spot signs of, especially to the everyday person. This may be due to the way they’re shown in the media, often with young, anorexic girls, however, this doesn’t reflect the full spectrum of eating disorders and who can get them. If you’re even slightly worried about yourself or anyone else, it is always best to seek help as quickly as possible. This will give the greatest chance of recovery. A couple of small signs that you may be developing an eating disorder could be fixating on food, a change in mood which affects diet or hiding/being ashamed of food.
The university is more than willing to support anyone affected, even if they’re unsure, it is always best to seek advice. Student wellbeing is the best place to go and can be reached on the Brayford campus via a drop-in appointment. However, if you’re in need of rapid support, beateatingdisorders.org.uk have a helpline: 0808 801 0677 and email address: email@example.com for you to seek help. Of which is never too early or too late.