Eating disorders – their real impact and first steps to getting support and working towards recovery
It's eating disorders awareness week and we may be reflecting on difficult aspects of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder which reduce a person's quality of life. One aspect to consider is the cost to the person and their carers.
The cost of an eating disorder is high. There is the loss of earnings and the impact on career choices from a reduced capacity to work or study, there is the social cost which is the impact it has on family and friendships and there are financial costs such as lost college or university fees. The impact of an eating disorder goes far beyond food and drink.
In a study by the eating disorders charity Beat, the financial impact of time off work or out of education for people with an eating disorder is on average £650 a year for people under the age of 20. It is £9,500 a year for people over the age of 20 and £5,900 a year for carers. In the same study, 90% of respondents said the eating disorder had a significant or very significant impact on their quality of life and wellbeing.
However, with the appropriate treatment, care and support people can begin to recover from an eating disorder, with the potential of changing their quality of life.
Eating disorders come in different forms, they might involve overeating, restricting, purging, abusing medication or over-exercising. They can affect anyone of any gender, any age and any background. It doesn't matter whether you are unsure if you have anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder or another eating disorder, what matters is you have noticed something does not feel quite right. You can link this in some ways to your relationship with food and drink, you may notice that you feel anxious about eating with others or on your own. The way you respond to hunger could feel complicated or muddled and you may notice that you're trying to avoid thinking about or feeling something by focusing on food instead.
If you think you might have problems with eating (or you're a carer for someone who does) and you would like to talk to someone about this, you could consider seeing a counsellor as a first step. Counselling can provide help and support for this.
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.
About Marion Lakah
Written by Shamini Sriskandarajah who is an integrative therapist based in Sevenoaks. Shamini has an MSc in Therapeutic Counselling (University of Greenwich), 2016. This included research into therapists who have recovered from an eating disorder.