Health care providers across the world convene each February for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Regardless of language, culture or geography, most share the same concern – the reality that most people who suffer from eating disorders don’t seek help, and don’t get treatment, despite advances in awareness for the disease.
An article from the Cape Breton Post, Sydney, quotes a clinical psychologist trained in the treatment of eating disorders, Dr. John Gainer, who brings to light the startling fact that about one of ten people with anorexia or bulimia will not be alive in a decade, if they continue without treatment. Most will keep their disease hidden from friends and family.
While males also represent about one million cases of eating disorders in the U.S., females still remain at the highest level of danger for diseases like anorexia and bulimia, with the disease typically manifesting during the late teen years and in a woman’s 20s.
Depression, lack of easily accessible treatment, and fear or anxiety about talking about their disease are strong factors keeping patients from getting help. Another need, say experts, is for better training toward recognizing the symptoms of eating disorders – especially for school counselors and people who work at public health facilities. Helping school and public health staff gain confidence in identifying patients who have dysfunctional eating habits or an eating disorder can open the door toward professional treatment.
Community knowledge can also play a big role, with physicians and psychologists continuing to explore how to empower community groups to spread a life-saving message: help is available, and seeking help right away is vital for recovering from the physical and emotional effects of an eating disorder.