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Eating Disorder in UAE: Practical Answers to Common Questions

Eating Disorder in UAE is on the rise, according to researchers. Teachers and parents are asked to look for the signs of Eating Disorder among children. Eating Disorder undoubtedly refers to having a problem with food. These are the most common health issues affecting the population across the UAE. Concerns related to body shape, increasing exposure to western culture, social media interventions, and advertisements are the primary reasons for increasing Eating Disorders among the population. Persistent eating behaviours negatively impacts your health, emotions and mental conditions. The most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.

Maudsley Health, centred in Abu Dhabi, promotes mental health and wellbeing by providing treatment and care to the individuals suffering from Eating Disorders. Experts from across a range of different professions deliver high-quality assessment, treatment and care to children and adults requiring mental health support and wellbeing services. Have you come across someone suffering from eating Disorder? Do you want to help your loved ones to recover? Here are a few common questions and answers to understand more about Eating Disorders.

What is an Eating Disorder (ED)?

Abnormal thinking and behaviours related to weight and food can be defined as Eating Disorder. It has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses. All eating disorders have potentially life-threatening consequences. Adults, Adolescents, and Children experience these illnesses to a considerable extent.

Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia! What is the difference?

Both these terms are characterized by disturbance in eating behaviour and an overvalued drive for thinness. Anorexia nervosa is a syndrome of self-starvation. Bulimia is characterized by dieting, compensatory purging behaviour, binge-eating, and all this prevents weight gain.

How is Anorexia Nervosa diagnosed?

The most imperative criteria for the diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa are: the patient refuses to maintain minimally normal body weight, he is intensely afraid of gaining weight, and has significantly distorted body image.

How is Bulimia Nervosa diagnosed?

The most significant criteria for the diagnosis of Bulimia Nervosa are: the patient experiences binge eating or a sense of lack of control over eating or demonstrates inappropriate compensatory behaviour to prevent weight gain.

Why did my family member develop an eating disorder?

The root cause of Eating Disorder includes predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors. Predisposing factors are based on genetic vulnerability. Precipitating factors are based on the individual behaviours, including exercises, dieting etc. An eating disorder is sustained by the Perpetuating factors, including physiological consequences of starvation/binge-purge behaviors/ anxiety/ avoidance etc.

How are Eating Disorders treated?

Eating disorders treatment is focused on all three major areas including biological, Psychological and social interventions. Biological treatment includes nutritional stabilization and education. Psychological treatments include individual, family and group psychotherapy. The treatment focusing on social interventions include meal support and social support necessary to a patient undergoing nutritional stabilization. Building consciousness through media awareness training is an example of social treatments beneficial to recovering eating disorder patients. Medications also play a vital role in controlling symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, thought disturbances, agitation and mood problems.

How can we explain the illness to our family members and friends?

The best option is to talk openly with your family members and friends about the illness. Let them know what this illness means to you and your family. Make sure you explain the negative impact of any comments related to weight or food. Train your loved ones about the sickness based on your findings and let them know about what is helping and not helping in your recovery. Make certain to clarify that any remarks about food or weight can be useless.

My friend does not even think there is a problem. What can I do?

Treatment interventions are supportive when a patient loses control of their symptoms. We must try to provide control of the symptoms until they have stabilized. Patients recovering from Eating Disorders need clear expectations and firm limits. It will not be possible to “cure” a patient by trying to wrestle the illness away from them. We should support the patient in knowing their healthy identity and learning new skills for self-expression. This will help the patient separate themselves from the illness and come to respond to the treatment. Have there been recent developments in research on the treatment of eating disorders? Researches have been progressing these days rapidly and have proved that Eating Disorders are biologically based illnesses. Family-based therapy is the most effective treatment of choice in adolescents for Anorexia Nervosa. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is the most successful outpatient treatment approach for Bulimia.

What questions should I ask a doctor when seeking treatment?

  1. How is my family involved in my treatment?
  2. How about your average rates of weekly weight gain?
  3. What percentage of your patients reach full weight restoration?
  4. What types of therapy do you offer?
  5. What are the medical services provided?
  6. What is the process of managing medical complications or co-occurring psychological conditions?

Treatment at Maudsley Health

For those who suffer from eating disorders, the very process that sustains us can become a source of fear, panic, anxiety and pain. In case this illness is left untreated, it can race out of control, and might result in potentially deadly consequences. Maudsley Health can help you in answering all your queries related to Eating Disorders. Our team of experts work together with our widest range of mental health services to help out the population suffering from Eating Disorders. All the treatments we deliver are recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) 2017 guidelines. Discuss your issues with our experts, and we will let you know which treatment will be best for your recovery.