Welcome to the blog for Free Your Mind mental health anti-stigma campaign

This is the blog for the Free Your Mind campaign which aims to battle stigma towards mental illness through the use of music, art, film, and culture.
The blog consists of informative and, hopefully, entertaining articles/posts.
Enjoy! :-)

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Understanding Eating Disorders

Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia are common and are very serious mental illnesses; being dangerously underweight can be fatal. Eating disorders are common in both adults as well as teenagers. These type of mental health problems also occur in men and are becoming increasingly common.

Anorexia is termed by doctors as 'anorexia nervosa', and bulimia as 'bulimia nervosa'. Other eating disorders include Binge Eating Disorder (BED) - this is like bulimia but without the sufferer attempting to get rid of the food/weight (aka. 'purge') - and Compulsive Overeating. The difference between Binge Eating Disorder is that BED is constant, whereas Compulsive Overeating comes and goes in cycles.

The psychological signs of anorexic disorder include:

  • a distorted perception of your body shape or your body shape or weight
  • an intense fear of gaining weight
  • an obsessive interest in what others are eating
  • becoming aware of an 'inner voice' that challenges your views on eating and exercise
  • changes in your personality, as well as mood swings
  • denial of the existence of a problem
The behavioural signs of anorexic disorder include:
  • rigid or obsessive behaviour towards eating; such as cutting your food into tiny pieces and pushing your food around the plate
  • vomiting and/or taking laxatives
  • wearing big, baggy clothes
  • restlessness and hyperactivity
The psychological signs of bulimic disorder include:
  • uncontrollable urges to eat vast amounts of food
  • a distorted perception of your body weight and shape
  • an obsession with your food, or feeling 'out of control' around food
  • emotional behaviour and mood swings
  • isolation - feelings of helplessness and loneliness
  • anxiety and depression; low self-esteem, guilt and shame
The behavioural signs of bulimic disorder include:
  • food disappearing unexpectedly or being secretly hoarded
  • periods of fasting
  • binge eating and vomiting
  • disappearing to the toilet after meals in order to vomit food you've eaten
  • excessive use of laxatives, diuretics or enemas
  • excessive exercise
  • shoplifting for food; abnormal amounts of a money spent on food
  • secrecy and reluctant to socialise
The lists above are not definitive, and those with an eating disorder may not experience all of these symptoms.

Although each eating disorder results in different eating behaviours, each occurs when sufferers cannot separate their emotions from cannot separate their emotions from their eating habits. The self-esteem in those with these kinds of mental illnesses is thought to be low. Individuals with low self-esteem will often give off a beaten appearance; for example, walking with their head down. Those suffering from an eating disorder think that they are ugly. Genetics are also thought to ply a part in causing eating disorders.

Eating disorders are more common than you might think, and they are very mental illnesses; which is why understanding them is important. The two most well known eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, but there are others! And, like any mental illness, an eating disorder can affect anyone, not just young women.

Another campaign I am fond of is 'All Walks' which aims to challenge the fashion industry's view of the body beautiful, find out more here.

I hope this information was useful, and if you have anything thing to add, please do! 
Take care.
Nicola of FYM

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