4 Facts About Eating Disorders

4 Facts About Eating Disorders

by Dr Emma Gray - 15th September, 2014

Eating Disorders

1. Mortality rates
Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and for females between the ages of 15 and 24 years it is associated with a death rate 12 times higher than for all other causes of death.
The reason for such a high death rate stems from the fact that an eating disorder has both emotional and physical dimensions so sufferers are not only at risk of harm as a result of mood disorders (e.g. suicide resulting from depression) but as a but also as a result of physical complications arising from rapid weight loss and purging behaviours (e.g. vomiting and laxative misuse).

2. Self Esteem
Eating Disorders (i.e. anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, eating disorders not otherwise specified {EDNOS}) result from chronic global low self esteem.
An eating disorder provides the sufferer with a short term solution to a number of personal and interpersonal problems often giving them a sense of control and purpose. Without improving self esteem and providing the sufferer with alternative ways of coping with the difficulties that they face an eating disorder cannot be resolved.

3. Comorbidity
People suffering from an eating disorder will often also experience a comorbid mental health illness. For example an estimated 50% of people with eating disorders also meet critieria for clinical depression.

It is also common for people with eating disorders to suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), sleep disorders and occasionally post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

4. Treatment
Research suggests that currently the most effective therapy for an eating disorder is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This is backed up by an endorsement from NICE (The National Institute for Clinical Excellence).
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for an eating disorder is best delivered by a Clinical Psychologist or Counselling Psychologist who have the breadth and depth of training and experience to treat this complex and often life threatening disorder.


Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleague once described me as natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.


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