Eating Disorders do not discriminate based on age. They can impact both males and females. While girls and women may be more vulnerable to these disorders, it is essential to note that boys and men and indeed any gender identity are also vulnerable.
We now understand that Eating Disorders can manifest at any age, contrary to the previously held belief that they predominantly affect adolescents. Whilst adolescence may be the most common age of onset, adults also experience Eating Disorders, either for the first time or because it has endured since adolescence. It is possible to provide support and resources to individuals across the lifespan.
Source: Butterfly Foundation
Eating Disorders may go undiagnosed or untreated for years, resulting in an extended period of distress and significant impact on quality of life. Even late middle-aged adults may seek treatment for an Eating Disorder that began in childhood. It is important to recognise that seeking support at any age is necessary for recovery and enhanced well-being.
Although all Eating Disorders can affect individuals of any age or gender, certain disorders may be more common in certain age groups. Anorexia Nervosa is typically associated with adolescence, whereas Binge Eating Disorder may be more common among adults. We can tailor support and treatment to specific challenges and requirements if we understand the age-specific dynamics of various Eating Disorders.
Anorexia Nervosa typically emerges between the ages of 15 and 19, although it can manifest at any age, including childhood. Roughly 1% of women and less than 0.5% of men will encounter Anorexia Nervosa at some point in their lives.
Bulimia Nervosa often begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. Approximately 2% of women and 0.5% of men will experience Bulimia Nervosa during their lifetime.
Binge Eating Disorder generally initiates in late adolescence or early adulthood as well. However, individuals in mid-life have a higher likelihood of developing Binge Eating Disorder compared to other Eating Disorders. Approximately 3.5% of women and 2% of men will experience this condition during their lifetime.
Source: Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
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Physical and Emotional Well-being
Receiving treatment for an Eating Disorder is important for both your physical and emotional health. Eating Disorders can have severe consequences on your body, leading to nutritional deficiencies, organ damage, and various health complications. Additionally, the emotional toll can be immense, affecting your relationships, self-esteem, and overall quality of life. By seeking treatment, you empower yourself to address these challenges and work towards holistic healing.
Professional Guidance and Support
Engaging in treatment provides you with access to a team of compassionate and dedicated professionals who truly understand Eating Disorders. These professionals possess the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to guide you through the complexities of your disorder, providing evidence-based therapies, nutritional counselling, and personalised support. They can help you develop coping strategies, challenge negative thoughts, and establish a healthier relationship with food and your body.
Breaking the Cycle of Isolation and Shame
One of the most significant benefits of treatment is the opportunity to break free from the isolation and shame that often accompany Eating Disorders. Connecting with a supportive community of peers who understand your struggles can create a sense of belonging and validation. Treatment settings provide a safe space to share experiences, gain insights, and learn from others on a similar journey. You are not alone, and by seeking treatment, you open doors to meaningful connections and empathetic support.
Uncovering Underlying Factors
Treatment delves deeper into the underlying factors contributing to your Eating Disorder. It helps you explore the psychological, emotional, and environmental triggers that may have influenced its development.
Embrace a Brighter Future
Recovery from an Eating Disorder is not just about overcoming the illness; it's about reclaiming your life and embracing a brighter future. Treatment equips you with the tools and skills necessary to build a fulfilling and balanced life, free from the constraints of your disorder. It empowers you to redefine your self-worth, nurture meaningful relationships, pursue your passions, and cultivate a positive and nourishing mindset.
With the proper treatment and a positive outlook, the majority of individuals with an Eating Disorder can make a full recovery. It is essential to approach your recovery journey with optimism and confidence.
Source: Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and with the support of healthcare professionals, loved ones, and your own determination, you can overcome the challenges and embark on a path towards lasting well-being.
Recovery from an Eating Disorder can take time, especially if you have Anorexia Nervosa, which may require up to 5 years for significant progress.
Source: Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
It is important to be patient and recognise that recovery is a gradual process. There may be occasional setbacks, such as during periods of tension, but these instances do not define your recovery. Therefore, establishing a long-term, trustworthy relationship with a healthcare professional in whom you have trust is invaluable. Throughout your journey, continuous guidance, support, and monitoring will be provided to help you navigate difficulties, maintain progress, and ensure your long-term wellbeing.
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Recovery from an Eating Disorder can evoke a range of emotions, including hope, fear, uncertainty, and ambivalence. It's essential to recognise that these mixed feelings are valid and understandable. The road to recovery may seem intimidating, and it's okay to feel conflicted about letting go of familiar patterns or facing the unknown. Remember that acknowledging and processing these emotions is an important part of the healing process.
Explore the valuable resources that can support you in overcoming your Eating Disorder, click here. They are tailored to your specific needs.
Eating Disorder recovery is unique to each individual. Two people with the same Eating Disorder may respond differently to treatment.
There are different evidence-based treatments for Eating Disorders. These aren't normally one-size-fits-all. Recovery usually requires a combination of treatments.
Multidisciplinary treatments include self-help, various complementary or allied therapies, family therapy, general medicine, dietetics, nutrition, and psychiatry.
Below, we outline the variety of treatments available in BodyMatters Australasia for managing and overcoming Eating Disorders and body image concerns.
Enhanced Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT-E)
This individual-focused treatment seeks to understand the relationship between the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and actions, with a goal of improving both emotional and physical health.
CBT-E treatment involves four distinct stages: gaining insight into the individual disorder and its potential causes, formulating an individualised treatment strategy, implementing developed strategies and addressing maintaining factors, and creating prevention measures for potential relapse. Each stage typically includes varying numbers of sessions, with a total of 20-40 weekly sessions depending on the client's needs and availability.
Maudsley Family Therapy (FBT)
This is a treatment of an exceptional approach to aiding young individuals experiencing restrictive eating or weight loss. This therapy positions parents as a vital aid in their child's recovery, with siblings also involved in the treatment process.
Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO-DBT)
This is a treatment approach designed for individuals exhibiting emotional over-control, often resulting in social isolation and poor interpersonal relations, contributing to conditions like Anorexia Nervosa. This therapy promotes openness to feedback, flexibility in response to changing demands, and effective emotional communication, fostering an emotionally healthy, socially connected life. While traditional Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) targets under-controlled emotional styles, RO-DBT focuses on over-controlled styles, emphasising social signalling and connectedness. Individuals experiencing an Eating Disorder due to over-control and desiring a more open, connected life could find RO-DBT beneficial.
Special Supportive Clinical Management (SSCM)
This is a individualised therapeutic approach designed to holistically support individuals with complex needs such as Eating Disorders. The core of SSCM is a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, including medical specialists, psychologists, and rehabilitation specialists, who provide comprehensive care focusing on physical, emotional, and social aspects. Central elements of SSCM include a thorough assessment leading to a personalised treatment plan, medical management of the patient's condition, and psychological support. SSCM also provides continuous monitoring of the patient's mental health, coping skills, quality of life, and social support network to ensure effective management of the Eating Disorder. Rehabilitation and patient education are further components, enhancing patients' functional abilities and independence while empowering them with the knowledge and skills to manage their condition.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
This is a goal-oriented psychotherapy that concentrates on enhancing a patient's relationships and communication skills, crucial in managing conditions such as Eating Disorders. Grounded in attachment and interpersonal theories, IPT focuses on understanding and resolving current interpersonal issues that may affect the patient's emotional well-being. The therapist helps identify patterns in the patient's relationships and communication styles that may contribute to their disorder. Using techniques such as role-playing and practical examples, IPT aims to enhance the patient's social support network and improve their relationships. The therapy typically spans 12-20 weekly sessions, offering a focused approach to address specific issues within a defined timeframe.
The Maudsley Model of Anorexia Nervosa Treatment in Adults (MANTRA)
This is an evidence-based therapy designed to address factors maintaining Eating Disorders in adults. Grounded in the Maudsley Family-Based Treatment, it involves the patient's close support network to restore healthy eating habits and weight gain while addressing related psychological issues. The structured and goal-oriented treatment entails weekly sessions, including individual therapy, family therapy, and dietetic support, all aiming for complete recovery within a defined timeframe. The therapist and patient collaboratively devise a structured treatment approach targeting the most significant aspects of the Eating Disorder. MANTRA is particularly beneficial for individuals who are experiencing Eating Disorder for an extended period of time who've found little success with other treatment methods.
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Individuals with Anorexia typically eat very little, leading to extremely low body weight. They may think about food or calories a great deal because of an intense fear of weight gain. They consider themselves to be fat, even when they are very thin.
Individuals with bulimia nervosa regularly engage in binge eating, followed by purging or using laxatives to control their weight.
Binge Eating Disorder
Individuals with Binge Eating Disorder often eat faster than other people. They may eat in secret so others won't see how much food they consume. They eat more food than they need and feel uncomfortable after eating. They may gain a lot of weight.
Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID Eating Disorder)
For individuals with ARFID, food is not interesting or enjoyable; they tend to avoid eating because of concerns about smell, taste, or texture. They don't have Anorexia, Bulimia, or another medical problem that would explain their eating behaviours.
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At BodyMatters Australasia, our experienced team of credentialed practitioners combines the comprehensive and evidence-based treatment to treat Eating Disorders and is equipped with relevant knowledge and skills to educate communities about these conditions. Our multidisciplinary team comprises nutritionists, dietitians, psychologists, and paediatricians who have dedicated their careers to helping individuals navigate the challenges of eating disorders.
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