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Anorexia and Bulimia: Eating Disorders Under the Microscope

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In the UK alone, there are over 1.6 million people estimated to be directly affected by an eating disorder. Of this 1.6 million, 11% are male and 89% are female, and 14-25 year olds are the group most affected by eating disorders.

Conditions like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are common and serious eating disorders in the UK.

On average, 149 weeks go by before someone experiencing symptoms of an eating disorder seeks help. This equates to almost three years, 37 months or 1,043 days during which they suffer in silence.

There are up to 18 new cases of bulimia per 100,000 people every year in the UK, and around 1 in 100 women aged between 15 and 30 are affected by anorexia.

Anorexia & Bulimia: Under The Microscope

Although both conditions are more common in young women, anorexia and bulimia can affect men and women of any age.

What is Anorexia?

Anorexia usually involves sufferers trying to keep their weight as low as possible by not eating enough food or by exercising too much.

What is Bulimia?

Bulimia sufferers tend to go through periods of eating a lot of food in a short amount of time and then forcing themselves to be sick, use laxatives or do excessive exercise (or a combination of all three) in an effort to stop themselves gaining weight.

What Is The Link Between Anorexia and Bulimia?

Both of these conditions can be recognised by severe weight loss, fear of putting on weight and being very critical of weight and body shape — to the point where sufferers believe they are overweight despite being a healthy weight or underweight. Both disorders are also often accompanied by mood changes, including feeling very:

  • Tense
  • Tired
  • Anxious
  • Secretive

Common Signs of an Eating Disorder

Sufferers may miss meals or avoid certain foods they see as fattening, and will often have an unusually low Body Mass Index (BMI) and/or be smaller and thinner than expected for their age. They may resort to medications to fuel their condition.

Both anorexia and bulimia can manifest themselves in a variety of physical conditions, and not just through a loss of weight. Sufferers may also experience dry skin, dizziness or even hair loss. Some sufferers of anorexia can even experience unwanted facial hair.

Migraines are also common in individuals with eating disorders. One study by Neurology Reviews found that 84% of participants with anorexia suffered migraines, as did 74% of bulimia sufferers.

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Is An Eating Disorder a Mental Illness?

Eating disorders all start in the mind - it's not just about physical appearance. This means that eating disorders are indeed classed as mental illnesses, as they focus heavily on behaviours and coping mechanisms to make an individual feel in control.

Just like many other mental illnesses, eating disorders will convince the sufferer that they're not good enough and need to make a drastic change (which, of course, is never true).

Recovering From an Eating Disorder

Just like any other addiction, habit or mental illness, recovering from an eating disorder can be a difficult and long process. It’s hugely important that if you suspect you may be experiencing eating disorder symptoms, or you think someone else may be struggling, consult your GP as soon as possible. From there, you’ll be given help and support. Your GP will ask you questions about your eating habits and overall wellbeing and they will be able to refer you to a specialist who can help you with a tailored treatment plan and therapy program.

For help, support and treatment for a variety of health concerns, contact Express Pharmacy. Call the team today on 0208 123 07 03.