Anorexia nervosa: Navigating recovery with compassion

This is the first instalment of my series on eating and eating disorders. In this series, I aim to shed light on the complex and often misunderstood world of disordered eating, starting with a focus on anorexia nervosa.


The next two articles will focus on the impact of junk food on mental health with the concluding article on the real cost of junk food assessing what the government and regulatory bodies can do better to support a better outcome for all. 

In the United Kingdom, anorexia nervosa affects thousands of individuals, with statistics showing a concerning rise in its prevalence, especially among young people. Coupled with the pervasive influence of social media, which often promotes unrealistic beauty standards and unhealthy body ideals, the challenges of coping with anorexia have become more difficult than ever.

As a counsellor in Epsom, I witness firsthand the struggles individuals face in dealing with this complex disorder. In this article, we delve into the intricate web of anorexia nervosa, examining its profound impact and offering insights into navigating recovery with compassion and understanding. 

Understanding anorexia nervosa

The term anorexia has been used for over 140 years with the word originating from the Greek language and means “without appetite.” Anorexia nervosa is more than just a desire to be thin; it is a serious mental health condition characterised by extreme weight loss and a distorted body image. People with anorexia often have an intense fear of gaining weight and may engage in restrictive eating habits, excessive exercise, and other behaviours to control their weight. 

Signs and symptoms

Identifying anorexia nervosa can be challenging, as it often manifests through physical, emotional, and behavioural symptoms. These can include dramatic weight loss, fatigue, changes in appearance, distorted body image, preoccupation with food and weight, and secretive behaviour around eating. People may turn to medication to reduce their hunger (appetite suppressants), help them poo (laxatives) or make them pee (diuretics) to stop themselves gaining weight. 

Risk factors and contributing factors

Several factors can contribute to the development of anorexia nervosa, including genetic predisposition, environmental influences, and psychological factors like low self-esteem or perfectionism. Also, there is a strong link between childhood trauma and eating disorders. 

Societal pressures, cultural ideals of beauty, and media influence also play a significant role.

Treatment and recovery

Recovery from anorexia nervosa is possible with the right support and treatment. Early intervention is crucial, and treatment often involves a combination of psychotherapy, nutritional counselling, and medical management. Family support and involvement are essential in the recovery process, as is the support of a multidisciplinary treatment team.

Prevention and advocacy

Preventing anorexia nervosa involves promoting body positivity, self-acceptance, and a healthy relationship with food and body image. Advocacy efforts are also crucial in raising awareness and ensuring access to resources for prevention and treatment.

Anorexia nervosa is a complex disorder that requires compassion, understanding, and support. By educating ourselves, offering support to those affected, and advocating for greater awareness and resources, we can work towards a future where everyone struggling with anorexia nervosa can find hope, healing, and recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anorexia nervosa, remember that you do not have to face it alone. At David's Counselling, I provide a supportive and compassionate environment where you can explore your feelings, gain valuable insights, and work towards recovery. Do not hesitate to reach out to me for professional help and support.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Epsom, Surrey, KT18
Written by David Campbell, Counsellor MBACP Registered Individual and Couples Therapy
Epsom, Surrey, KT18

David Campbell is a BACP registered therapist and offers outcome driven counselling in Epsom, Surrey and online giving you a safe, trusting and confidential place in which to be seen, heard and work through the issues you are facing. My practice is adapted to your needs allowing you to move forward with greater clarity and confidence in the future.

Show comments

Find a therapist dealing with Anorexia nervosa

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals