Sunday, 10 February 2013

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2013

The 11th to the 17th of February marks ED Awareness week here in the UK. I was debating whether or not to make this post for quite some time, it's an issue that's very important to me but I wasn't sure whether it would be appreciated on this blog or not. But it's an excellent cause and something that needs far more awareness around it, so here goes.

Eating Disorders can affect everyone, regardless of background, age, gender or weight. NICE statistics suggest that around 1.6 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder and around 11% of these are male (though this is likely higher due to stigma and lack of awareness in general, later studies have suggested figures as high as 25% male sufferers). It is estimated that of these 1.6 million, 10% have Anorexia Nervosa, 40% have Bulimia Nervosa and the remaining 50% fall under the EDNOS category.

Anorexia and Bulimia are not the only eating disorders out there. Not only are there many categories and subtypes within these few definitions, Anorexia and Bulimia both have two distinct subtypes (restricting and binge-purge for Anorexia and purging and non-purging for Bulimia), there is also the EDNOS category as well as covering those who don't quite fit into the narrow diagnostic criteria for AN or BN (eg. someone who heavily restricts their intake but does not currently have a BMI below 17.5, or someone who binges and purges but has been doing so for less than 3 months) also includes Binge Eating Disorder. And there are many eating disorders or patterns of disordered eating which are not currently recognised by standard medical texts.

You cannot tell if someone has an eating disorder by looking at them. Ignore what the media wants to tell you, most ED sufferers are not emaciated waifs. In fact most sufferers are normal weight or overweight. Regardless of weight or diagnosis the effects of eating disorders are devastating. 20% of anorexia sufferers die as a direct result of their illness, bulimia and EDNOS also both come with severe medical complications. Many more sufferers will end their lives through suicide due to the massive effect an eating disorder can have on their quality of life.

But recovery is possible. This is the message that b-Eat wants to send to everyone. Recovery is a hard and lengthy journey but it is possible, and earlier treatment is sought the better the chance of recovery. But it is never too late. Research into recovery suggests that around 46% of anorexia nervosa patients recover and a further third improve greatly, with bulimia the percentage of fully recovered patients is 45% with a further 27% making considerable improvement. B-Eat believes that eating disorders can and will be beaten.

(Information from: b-Eat & wikipedia)

This years theme is "Sock It To Eating Disorders" and the b-Eat webpage has loads of fundraising ideas including organising a silly socks day at work, decorating socks in b-Eat colours (Blue and Pink), knitting, baking and more. As well as ways to raise awareness in your local area (they have a handy poster you can print out and of course donations are always welcome. There are multiple ways to donate via their website, every little helps. Even if you just wear silly socks for the week, or just a day, you're doing something.

Please. If you have an Eating Disorder, or know someone who does, reach out. Talk to friends, family, teachers, workmates, the internet, whomever you have. And if you're supporting someone with an eating disorder remember to take time to care for yourself, the negative effects of eating disorders are far reaching and don't just affect the sufferer but everyone around them as well. So remember, if you are a carer or friend then you need support too. There are lots of resources out there to help those with EDs find their way out, and for the friends, family and carers of them to find support and comfort too. These are just a few:
  • b-Eat (they have a helpfinder directory, online forums, live chats and lots and lots of useful information for sufferers and those who care about/for them. Plus an area specifically geared towards young people) 
  • Men Get EDs Too (this is a website focused around men with eating disorders, both to raise awareness and support) 
  • Mind (UK Mental Health charity) 
  • NEDA (this is the American National Eating Disorders Association, with resources and information for those based in the states) 
  • Overeaters Anonymous (Have both UK and USA based branches and offer support both to those with issues overeating and other problems such as anorexia or bulimia) 
  • The Butterfly Foundation (an Australian based website for support and information on Eating Disorders) 
  • Kati Morton (a therapist who works with eating disorders in the US, she has loads of helpful information and makes youtube videos full of advice, recovery tips and support) 
  • Something Fishy - wealth of information and resources about Eating Disorders, including sufferers real life stories and experiences. Also has forums to connect with others, learn more or just pass the time.

2 comments:

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