Eating disorders cost the NHS an estimated £1.26bn every year in England, & whilst the number of those affected remains stable, costs in spending in that area mean that some sufferers, particularly the young, do not have access to the treatment they so desperately need.
Anorexia is a deadly illness, killing more individuals than alcohol, drug addiction and depression – with full recovery only likely in 50% of patients. The odds of recovery are not good as it is and with cutbacks to services, early intervention and specialised treatment are becoming an urgent priority.
Pioneering research carried out by Professor Lask – who set up the eating disorders unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital – has indicated that anorexia could in part be genetically predisposed.
“We are suspecting that there is an abnormality in the insula, it is not quite working properly and… there’s a knock on effect around the body,” explained Lask.
He then added: “For so long people thought that this is essentially middle class girls getting it. But it’s not like that at all. It’s an illness we do not choose to get”.
Martin Davies, head of Care UK, who run specialist services for eating disorder sufferers, has said that mounting pressure on NHS budgets means that many individuals are not gaining access to the treatment that they need to help them overcome and recover from their illness.
Davies went onto say that he felt the root cause of the disease was being overlooked in the treatment process, and that whilst the symptoms are effectively addressed, without looking into the cause the illness will continue to reoccur.
If you are concerned that either you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, it is extremely important that you visit your GP to discuss your concerns. Often, building up the courage to talk openly about your eating disorder and even recognising fully that there is an issue in the first place is a difficult step. If you are worried about this then you may want to start by talking to someone that you know and trust, before paying a visit to your healthcare professional – you may even find it easier if you take someone with you.
You may also find that counselling could be of benefit. As discussed in the above, tackling the emotional symptoms and the cause is also important, and a counsellor could help you to explore these areas in a confidential and neutral environment.
To find out more about counselling for eating disorders, please visit our fact-sheet for further information.
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