Eating disorders can be beaten

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THE Department of Social Care is taking part in a UK-wide campaign to raise awareness of eating disorders.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week started on Monday and this year the message is that eating disorders can be beaten – recovery is always possible even after many years of illness.

Social Care Minister Martyn Quayle MHK said: ‘I am delighted to support this important initiative.

‘Government is committed to improving the quality of life of the people of the Isle of Man; good mental health is a crucial factor in achieving this.

‘I believe my department’s efforts to address issues such as eating disorders working with colleagues in the Department of Health are making a real difference.

‘I do hope Eating Disorders Awareness Week helps everyone in the community understand this issue and help people who may be suffering from eating disorders to gain information and help.’

A department spokesman said there were about 30 people in the island with a primary diagnosis of eating disorder.

But he said: ‘Many instances of eating disorders are thought to remain undiagnosed because they are unreported and many eating disorders are atypical, which means that problem-eating behaviour is present, but does not meet the diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder.’

In the UK, eating disorders affect 1.6m people. Anyone can develop an eating disorder regardless of age, sex, culture or racial background.

Those most likely to be affected are girls aged 12-25 but 10 per cent of people diagnosed are male.

Anorexia nervosa makes eating very distressing and people often have a distorted view of how they look. They avoid eating and may develop unusual habits to do so.

Bulimia nervosa leads to people binge eating and then they try to get rid of the food either by vomiting, laxatives or excessive exercise.

Portrayals in the media have been shown to influence some people’s body image but eating disorders are not a modern day problem.

The causes are complex and there are lots of reasons why someone may develop an eating disorder, such as low self-esteem, relationship problems, anxiety about growing up, bereavement or due to a traumatic event.

Some people describe it as a way of staying in control of their life or as an emotional release.

If left untreated it can have a negative impact on their relationship with family and friends and their schoolwork or job.

In the island, a number of organisations help with treatment, including GPs, The Community Mental Health Team (CMHT), nursing staff, dieticians, psychiatrists, family therapists, psychotherapists and psychologists.

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) co-ordinates the treatment of eating disorders in children and young people.

Political member for social services Bill Malarkey MHK said: ‘This week provides an opportunity to raise awareness and increase understanding of these difficult and demanding disorders and the department continues to provide a high quality service to those affected.’

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