If you or one of your loved ones are affected by an eating disorder you probably want as much information as you can find. Ellern Mede can recommend the information provided by the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH) London, which has in-depth information on this subject. Here are a few insights we want to share with our readers:

  • Young people with an eating disorder have negative beliefs about themselves and about their eating, body shape and weight.
  • This usually causes physical and psychological symptoms, some of which (may) become long-term.
  • This has an impact on their physical and mental health, education, relationships and quality of life.
  • The earlier treatment starts, the better the long-term outcomes.
  • Current research supports Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), interpersonal and family-based therapies, as well as some medications.
  • The risk of early death among people with eating disorders is one of the highest among those with psychiatric disorders, either because of physical complications, such as malnutrition or heart problems, or because of suicide (Arcelus et al, 2011; Chesney et al, 2014).
  • Eating disorders are thought to be the third most common chronic illness (after asthma and obesity) in adolescent girls (Yeo and Hughes, 2011)
  • Clinicians should NOT rely on weight issues in order to diagnose an eating disorder. Only about 15-20% of those affected meet the guideline criteria for anorexia nervosa. (NICE 2017).
  • The UK eating disorder charity, Beat, says that most people are trapped in a repeating cycle of seeking help, waiting for diagnosis, waiting for and receiving treatment and ultimately relapsing and requiring repeat treatment. For more than half of people with an eating disorder, the recurring cycle lasts for more than 6 years (Beat, 2015).
  • research shows that the burden placed on carers of people with eating disorders is often higher than other mental health conditions (Treasure et al., 2001).

Studies in the community show that most people with an eating disorder don’t have any treatment at all. This may be because:

  • they are never identified in the first place
  • they refuse treatment because of the stigma attached to an eating disorder diagnosis,
  • they do not recognise the serious nature of their condition
  • of shame or denial

(Attia et al, 2013).

Future intervention possibilities:

There is evidence from brain scans of people with anorexia that there is altered activity in some areas of the brain, such as the pre-frontal cortex which plays an important role in self-control. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive method of brain stimulation which works by producing a magnetic field. Researchers are now exploring the effects and therapeutic potential of TMS in eating disorders. (Kings College, 2017)

To read more see more visit ACAMH.