Eating Disorder Awareness Week in India 2023
Eating Disorder Awareness begins in India around the last week of February, and ends at the beginning of March. However, the awareness around Eating Disorders is below par in our country. Anyone who comes forward to the awareness walk is a step ahead in supporting people dealing with the disorder.
Skooc is here intending to raise awareness and educate people about eating disorders and provide the right visibility and support to the individuals and their families who suffer.
In this article, we will be highlighting the truth behind the disorders, who are affected, and how they are affected. We will also discuss the many forms of eating disorders, and how it is best to get help.
Eating Disorders - In Essence
Eating disorders are a rapidly increasing problem in India, affecting people of all ages and genders. While eating disorders are commonly thought to be a problem that primarily affects women, recent research has shown that men can also suffer from such conditions.
It is therefore essential to understand the signs and symptoms, and the importance of seeking a counselling psychologist.
Eating disorders, as the name implies, are a group of psychological issues that result in the formation of unhealthy eating patterns. They may begin with an obsession with food, weight, or physical appearance.
When eating disorders become severe, they can have a considerable negative impact on health and, if undiagnosed, can be fatal. In reality, eating disorders are the second-deadliest mental illness, after an opioid overdose.
Prevalence of Eating Disorders in India
Studies have shown that the prevalence of eating disorders in India is increasing. The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) conducted a survey in 2015 which found that around 2% of the Indian population suffers from eating disorders. Another study conducted in 2018 found that eating disorders affected 6.5% of adolescent girls in India.
Apart from these surveys, studies by licensed therapists across the country state that, eating disorders affect an estimated 2-3% of the Indian population, with a higher incidence among women. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder are the most commonly diagnosed eating disorders in India.
However, due to a significant lack of awareness and stigma surrounding these disorders, the actual prevalence of eating disorders in India may be even higher. Many people with eating disorders may not seek help because they are afraid of being judged or because they do not have access to appropriate treatment. Furthermore, cultural factors such as peer pressure to conform to beauty standards and societal expectations regarding food and body image may contribute to the development of eating disorders in India.
Reasons for Eating Disorders
Eating disorders can develop as a result of a mix of genetic, psychological, and sociocultural factors. Some people may be genetically predisposed to developing an eating disorder, which can be triggered by environmental factors. Low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and perfectionism are all psychological factors that can contribute to the development of an eating disorder. Furthermore, sociocultural factors such as societal pressure to achieve a specific body type or conform to unrealistic beauty standards can contribute to the development of an eating disorder. Other factors that can contribute to the development of an eating disorder include a history of trauma or abuse, difficulty managing emotions, and interpersonal conflicts.
Let’s Discuss the Types of Eating Disorders
There are various types of eating disorders, each with its own set of symptoms and behaviours. The following are the most common types of eating disorders Skooc would like you to understand and identify:
Anorexia nervosa: This eating disorder is distinguished by severe food restriction, which frequently results in dangerously low body weight. Anorexics may have a distorted body image and a strong fear of gaining weight.
Bulimia nervosa is characterised by a cycle of binge eating followed by purging behaviours such as self-induced vomiting or excessive exercise. Bulimics may experience a loss of control over their eating habits.
Binge eating disorder is characterised by recurring episodes of binge eating in which a person consumes a large amount of food in a short period and feels a loss of control over their eating behaviour.
Other specified feeding or eating disorders: Disorders that do not meet the full criteria for the above three types but still cause significant distress related to food, body image, and eating behaviours fall into this category. There is also avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID): persistent lack of interest in food and restricted food intake.
It is important to note that these eating disorders can affect people of any gender, age, or background and that if left untreated, they can have serious physical and emotional consequences.
Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders can be difficult to detect as individuals often try to hide their behaviours and the symptoms vary depending on the type of disorder, but there are a few to be aware of.
For instance, the most noticeable symptom of anorexia nervosa is extreme weight loss, which may be accompanied by an obsessive preoccupation with food, calories, and weight.
Bulimia nervosa patients may experience weight fluctuations, but they are typically within a normal weight range. They may engage in secretive binge eating followed by purging via vomiting, laxatives, or excessive exercise.
Binge-eating disorder is characterised by frequent episodes of consuming large amounts of food without purging, often in secret.
Other common signs and symptoms of eating disorders include a distorted body image, preoccupation with food, avoidance of meals or food groups, frequent checking of weight or body shape, isolation and withdrawal from social activities, changes in mood and behaviour, and physical symptoms such as dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and gastrointestinal problems. It's important to note that these symptoms may not be present in every case of eating disorders and that they can be difficult to detect in oneself or others. Seeking help from a counselling psychologist or licensed therapist is crucial for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Importance of Seeking Help from a Licensed Therapist
Eating disorders can seriously affect an individual's physical and mental health. It is crucial for individuals who suspect that they or their loved ones have an eating disorder to seek professional help. There is a lack of awareness and resources for eating disorder treatment in India.
Skooc is a mental health clinic specialising in eating disorder treatment and can provide effective therapies such as cognitive-behavioural therapy and family-based therapy. Early intervention and treatment can improve the chances of recovery.
Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can have a significant impact on an individual's health and well-being. In India, there is a need for greater awareness and resources for eating disorder treatment. It is important for individuals who suspect that they or their loved ones have an eating disorder to seek professional help. By raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of eating disorders, we can work towards breaking the stigma and providing better support for those affected by this condition.