Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group raises awareness of eating disorders

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NHS Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group is taking a stand against eating disorders ahead of Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2017 and raising awareness of the warning signs of this serious illness.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week, running February 27 to March 5 is an international awareness event, fighting the myths and misunderstandings that surround eating disorders. Recognising the signs is an important first step for a sufferer or their friends and family and help is on hand to support.

The warning signs to look out for include:

· Missing meals, extreme dieting behavior, rigidity around what is eaten, when its eaten and how its eaten.

· Excessive exercise

· Complaining of being fat, even though they have a normal weight or are underweight

· Preoccupation with weight and shape which may manifest itself in excessive weighing, body checking or avoidance of situations due to distress related to body image

· Making repeated claims that they’ve already eaten, or they’ll shortly be going out to eat somewhere else and avoiding eating at home and/or avoiding social situations where food is involved

· Changes in mood from periods of elation to periods of low mood, increased levels of irritability and/or denial that there is any difficulty of problem

· Eating secretly. This may include eating large quantities of food in secret.

· Frequent use of the toilet. May be for long periods and can be directly after eating.

· Changes in energy and sleep levels

· The use of “pro-anorexia” websites or websites that are offering weight loss tips.

Eating disorders can affect anyone. Though the peak age of onset is in adolescence individuals can suffer at any age. Eating disorder effect both boys and girls and men and women.

Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, from medical complications associated with the illness as well as suicide. Research has found that 20% of anorexia sufferers will die prematurely from their illness. Bulimia is also associated with severe medical complications, and binge eating disorder sufferers often experience the medical complications associated with obesity. In every case, eating disorders severely affect the quality of life of the sufferer and those that care for them.

Eating disorders are the most life-threatening of all psychiatric illnesses and can cause heart failure and affect the body’s system therefore the illness should be taken very seriously. People worried about a friend or relative should seek help immediately. There is help available through your GP, or local support groups.

Central and North West London’s NHS Foundation Trust, Milton Keynes Lifespan Eating Disorder Service offers both individual and group talking therapies to both adults and young people suffering with eating disorders within Milton Keynes. The service is made of specialist nurses, a family therapist, therapist, dietitian psychiatrists and is due to appoint a psychologist. Both teams also offer a support group to families, loved ones and friends of sufferers.

Clinical nurse specialist/clinical lead Kathryn Weaver said: “Though the sufferer will focus on food and weight, eating disorders have little to do with food and weight and are often linked to low self-esteem and low self-worth.

“Many feel ashamed of their behaviours and undeserving of any help while others are fearful of help and/or are in denial that a problem does exist.

“Though this can be hard for families and loved ones and difficult for professionals it is important that we do not collude and ensure that treatment is accessed and done so in a mode that is caring and compassionate in nature.”