The main symptom is the relentless pursuit of thinness through self-starvation. This may become so extreme that it's life-threatening. It most frequently affects young women, but anorexia is found among both sexes of all ages, and across social and ethnic groups.
Some Of The Signs Of Anorexia:
* Severe weight loss.
* Distortions and misconceptions about weight and body size.
* Obsession with food and calories.
* Preoccupation with self-control.
* Excessive exercising.
* Isolation, loss of friends.
* Emotional, irritable behaviour.
* Secret vomiting/purging.
* Disruption/cessation of menstrual periods
This condition is characterised by overeating followed by self-induced vomiting and sometimes purging with laxatives. It can develop at any age, although it often follows an episode of anorexia. Bulimia can have serious long-term physical consequences, such as damage to the stomach, tooth enamel and vocal cords.
Some Of The Signs Of Bulimia Include:
* Binge-eating large amounts of food.
* Obsession with food and calories.
* Vomiting and purging.
* Often disappearing to the lavatory after meals.
* Secretive behaviour.
* Feeling out of control.
* Disrupted menstrual periods.
* Very low self-esteem.
What's The Treatment?
A variety of people treat eating disorders, using different techniques. These include family doctors, psychiatrists, dieticians and, ideally, a multidisciplinary team on a specialised eating disorders unit.
Treatment includes self-help approaches and psychological treatments, especially cognitive behavioural therapy, which aims to give people a better understanding of their condition and learn ways to change their behaviour.
Getting better is often a long, slow process. For example, 30 per cent of people with anorexia who have apparently recovered relapse in the first year after treatment and need more therapy. As many as 50 per cent recover completely, while another 30 to 40 per cent manage to lead a normal life.
For an in-depth look at eating disorders, including self-help tips, see the Mental health site.
For further information about eating disorders, talk to your GP.
Books About Eating Disorders
Thin, Grace Bowman, 2007. An honest account of life with anorexia nervosa. Recommended for anyone hoping to understand more about eating disorders and overcoming addiction.
Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa, Christopher Freeman, 2009. The author is one of the UK's authorities on anorexia nervosa and its treatment using cognitive behavioural techniques.
Anorexia Nervosa: A Survival Guide for Families, Friends and Sufferers, Janet Treasure, 1997. A self-help book for both families and sufferers offering useful ideas on how to overcome this illness.
The Invisible Man: A Self-help Guide for Men with Eating Disorders, Compulsive Exercise and Bigorexia, John Morgan, 2008. A self-help book for men with body image issues and eating disorders.
Getting Better Bit(e) by Bit(e): Survival Kit for Sufferers of Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorders, Ulrike Schmidt and Janet Treasure, 1997. A self-help manual offering detailed step-by-step advice for those with bulimia.
Overcoming Binge Eating: Christopher G. Fairburn, 2009. An authoritative self-help book for anyone who is working alone or with a therapist to recover from binge eating disorder.
Skills-based Learning for Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder: The New Maudsley Method, Janet Treasure, Gráinne Smith and Anna Crane 2007. Provides carers with the skills and knowledge needed to support and encourage those suffering.
Eating Disorders: A Parents' Guide, Rachel Bryant-Waugh and Bryan Lask, 2004. A straightforward introduction to the subject with practical advice.
Advice and support Anorexia and Bulimia Care
Anorexia and Bulimia Care offers a professional, personal and caring service, from a team of staff with experience in eating disorders, providing encouragement, advice and support for all involved (sufferers and family members) to help make full recovery possible.
B-eat is a UK charity for people with eating disorders and their families. There are separate confidential helplines - one for adults and one for young people under 25. Under 25s can also text or chat online to a member of the youth team.
Tel: (Adults) : 08456 341414
Tel: (Under 25s): 08456 347650
Overeaters Anonymous is a fellowship of individuals who, through shared experience, strength and hope, are recovering from compulsive overeating. They welcome everyone who wants to stop eating compulsively.