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  • Writer's pictureDr Majella Soumakiyan

Eating disorders are more than what they seem

Updated: Jan 21, 2020

It can be extremely difficult raising the subject of eating disorders with a friend or loved one. If you are parent, communicating your concern with your child about eating and dieting behaviour can be extremely difficult. To be supportive one needs to learn what to say and what not to say.

What is an eating disorder ?

There is more than one form of eating disorder. It’s useful to define it by identifying what it is not. They are definitely not a lifestyle choice or cry for help. It is a mental health illness affecting 4 % , that is close to a million people in Australia.Some of the types of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia and ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder)

Is it specific to a certain age group ?

No. It can affect any age, gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status. Eating disorders not only impact on the person experiencing the disorder, but also on their family, friends and community.

What are the risks ?

Eating disorder does not present on its own. Most of the time is is associated with anxiety and depression. For example people who suffer from anorexia are 22 times more at risk of committing suicide.

What causes eating disorders ?

There is no known single cause for eating disorder but there are many contributing factors for its development.

  • Genetics

  • Psychological factors -associated with different personality traits

  • Socio-cultural influences

  • Low self-esteem

  • Body image

  • Internalisation of the thin socio-cultural ideal

  • Extreme weight loss behaviours

  • Disordered Eating

  • Dieting

How and where to go for help ?

Your first point of contact is your GP. They can help to diagnose the condition and be able to offer you support and direct you to the right people who can help you. You might even be able to access government funded dietetics or psychological sessions. The good news is that many factors causing eating disorders can be managed with the right type of help. If you are or know of someone affected by eating disorders, the first step is to start a conversation with your family GP

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