Eating Disorders and Psychotherapist Counselling & Therapy
Eating disorders are very common psychological illnesses but are not always well diagnosed.
It is estimated that one in twenty women develop eating disorders. Men are increasingly experiencing difficulties with food too. Bingeing, purging, starvation, obsessive exercising, negative body image and obsessive thoughts, habits and behaviours around food are some of the defining symptoms of an eating disorder.
When one has an eating disorder the abnormal attitude to food and the change in diet leads to unhealthy eating. This can result in physiological damage to health on top of the psychological illness. There are also negative social & employment effects associated with eating disorders.
There are many types of eating disorders and many conditions that can affect people.
The most common eating disorders are:
Those suffering try to keep body weight as light as possible – maybe by starving themselves or by excessive exercise. Often those affected have unrealistic views on their own appearance & weight. One in 250 women suffer at some point and one in 200 men. It is most usual at 16/17 years of age.
Bulimia or Bulimia nervosa
Those affected try to control weight by over eating and then purging by making themselves sick or by using laxative medicines or diuretics – or by subsequent fasting. One in 50 women suffer at some point and one in 500 men. It is most common at 18/19 years of age.
Sufferers feel the need to overeat. It is unknown how common this is but we know it’s equally common in men and women. It often affects those in their 30’s or 40’s.
Eating Disorder: Other
There are other recognised (& less-recognised) conditions which have various similar and different descriptions and in different degrees. The psychotherapeutic concerns are often similar.
The most common causes of eating disorders:
The frequent underlying issues leading to eating disorders are many, such as difficult relationships in early life, low self-esteem, the loss of a loved one or a relationship. Exploring the issues behind your eating disorder will offer relief and help build a new sense of self-worth. And so this will lead to change in your relationship with food.
- Social pressures to be thin, but quite possibly complicated by some of the below reasons
- Professional or interest group pressures to be thin, similarly, often complicated by other factors
- Family history of weight and fitness issues, depression or addictions. Family pressures.
- Other psychological characteristics, like obsessive or perfectionist natures, anxieties or self-esteem issues
- Trauma, bereavement or loss, sexual or emotional abuse
- Difficult relationships or isolation
- Stress, on-going or within unbearable situations
- Issues with approaching or imminent maturity and related perceived expectations and self-image
Helping people with eating disorders:
If you are concerned about someone else with eating disorders then please consult your doctor or read advice on credible websites such as [a] advice to parents on the NHS site and [b] similarly advice for friends.
It is important when treating eating disorders that the person affected wants to get treatment. Support from family & friends is also useful. So it’s good to start talking about these disorders to start to avoid the troubles associated with this psychological condition. Getting better can take some time.
If you would like to consult a psychotherapist – in confidence – we are ready to help at the Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice. One of our three female therapists will give you the time, space and understanding to explore your relationship with food. Similarly with exercise. The psychotherapeutic exploration endeavours to find the underlying causes for your difficulties with food.
Please note that those affected may also need dietary advice from a separate source.