By Kate Sumner, Operations Director
Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, have announced their theme for Eating Disorders Awareness Week (27th February to 5th March) as the importance of early intervention in eating disorder treatment, and the vital role of GP’s. Here at the Recover Clinic, we could not agree more.
For a lot of our clients, Recover is their last hope. Many have been in and out of treatment since their early teens, and their faith in recovery is barely existent when they start their programs with us. Typically, their journey has also taken a huge toll on the emotional and financial resources of their families.
Research shows that early diagnosis and treatment often results in a quicker recovery with less severe symptoms. To us this goes without saying; of course it will be harder to unpick years of ingrained behaviours and thinking. Harder, but still very much possible.
What’s more, eating disorders have far reaching health consequences, such as osteoporosis or heart conditions. If early intervention is not made, a sufferers health can quickly deteriorate to the point that hospitalisation is required. This in itself can be very traumatic.
At the forefront of early detection and intervention are GPs. And whilst we liaise with many great GPs, there are many more that aren’t supportive of our work, and simply do not understand eating disorders at all. All too often we hear horror stories from our clients: they are “not underweight enough” to have an eating disorder, that all they need to do is eat more, and so on. Often, early intervention may mean that not all “criteria” are checked, but do not let this deter you from seeking the help you need.
Given that GPs are often the first port of call for sufferers, we strongly believe that further training should be given to help them with this incredibly important and pivotal role. If a sufferer has a bad experience, they may be less inclined ask for help again, or feel that they are not worthy of the help they are in such desperate need for.
There has been a lot of talk in the media lately about the downfall of the NHS, and the point of this blog is not to cast aspersions. Instead, we believe that better training and allocation of resources would be a huge step forwards in the early intervention of eating disorders – and we call upon the Government to review their policies in this field.
Of course the other path to early intervention lies with friends, family and schools/colleges. However, eating disorders can be hard to understand; they are complex, and there’s a lot of misinformation and ambiguity around the diagnoses. This is why we plough so many of our resources into getting the true message out there, and breaking the associated stigmas.
If you feel that someone you know has an eating disorder, do speak up. It can be very difficult for all parties, but it can also pave the way to an honest conversation and the start of the recovery process. Eating disorders thrive on shame, and it is so important to break their isolating nature.
For further advice on speaking to someone with an eating disorder…