Eating disorders

Eating disorders are illnesses which develop due to damaging eating patterns spiralling out of control. They are often driven by an intense fear of becoming fat and can involve eating too much or too little and using harmful ways to get rid of calories.

The most common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and compulsive or binge eating. They frequently develop during adolescence or early adulthood, but can occur during childhood or later in adulthood. Females are more likely to develop an eating disorder than males, but at least 10% of people diagnosed with an eating disorder are males. Eating disorders are often linked to other psychiatric conditions such as depression, substance misuse and anxiety.

Eating disorders are likely to be caused by a combination of factors. These can include social pressure to be thin; dieting as a form of control over your life; refusing food in a family context to express your feelings; and comfort eating when you are feeling depressed.

People may be offered a combination of different treatments for eating disorders, including help to gain weight; talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT); and medication such as antidepressants or anti anxiety drugs.