Why are eating disorders and hospital stays on the rise?
An eating disorder, whether anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, is a coping strategy to manage a range of emotional issues. I will look at the anorexic spectrum of eating disorders although there are common emotional factors throughout the spectrum of eating disorders.
We hear anorexia linked to wanting to be thin and the power of the media. But why in that case do we all not succumb to this difficult and exhausting range of conditions? We would all like to be attractive physically but why is attractiveness linked at times to being thin? Yes the media does contribute to this but what makes one person more vulnerable to taking weight loss or the means of weight loss to a risky and unhealthy point?
In this present time with such high expectations placed on young people without the often underpinning secure family life which a young person needs, a young person often becomes an outward shell performing in everyday life in order to please, achieve and thus be noticed and heard in this way. The human spirit within needs to be heard, noticed and responded to at its deepest level - but with busy lives, families often judge well being through achievement. Any show of distress can go unnoticed in a busy or absent family. Until attention is suddenly raised due to a rapid rate of weight loss in a young person. The young person has by this time spoken in a very 'loud' non-verbal way through an alteration of appearance.
Recovery begins through learning to express verbally how we feel and to help those around us to hear and understand our emotional needs. There needs to be more attention given to understanding these core predisposing emotional factors to an eating disorder rather than expensive and often recurrent hospital admissions where the focus is on weight restoration albeit necessary, without the accompanying adequate, targeted psychological and psychosocial help for the person with the eating disorder in order to prevent relapse and ultimately to aid recovery.
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About Maryanne Steele
Maryanne Steele and is highly experienced and trained Eating Disorders Therapist. She worked for many years within an NHS Eating Disorder service and in community mental teams. She is now Clinical Director of Wings, which is a Private Group Practice specialising in Eating Disorders and severe and enduring mental health issues.