Warning signs that someone is dealing with anorexia or bulimia

11th Oct, 2016 Categories: البالغين, مدونة

In support of World Mental Health Day, Camali Clinic offers a guide to spotting two of the most common disorders in adolescents – plus misconceptions

This month sees an international focus on mental health issues with both Mental Illness Awareness Week (5–9 October) and World Mental Health Day (10 October) taking place. As mental illness can take many forms, Dubai’s Camali Clinic – a leading specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) – is offering important warning signs for two prevalent image-related eating disorders: anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. These disorders affect adolescents, with girls being the most prone.

“People with anorexia nervosa believe they are fat and have a morbid fear of putting on weight – even if they are very slim and eat very little. Those with bulimia nervosa also worry a lot about weight, alternating between eating next to nothing, and then gorging themselves in binges. Often they vomit or take laxatives to control their weight,” explained Dr Kusay Hadi, Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist at Camali Clinic.

He added: “There are also a lot of misconceptions surrounding these disorders. The biggest being that it is a choice and that the person can choose to simply start eating again or stop vomiting. An eating disorder is a psychological illness, hidden deep within the brain’s circuitry and needs to be treated like any disease.”

We have highlighted five key warning signs to watch out for in youngsters which, if seen in any combination, could indicate they are suffering from anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa

  1. An intense fear of putting on weight with a belief they are overweight / fat when they are not
  2. Becoming preoccupied with food, calorie counting, and setting target weights
  3. Exercising excessively, often in secret
  4. Going to the bathroom or toilet immediately after meals
  5. Using laxatives and vomiting to control weight or sometimes other medications / herbal remedies to lose weight

Camali Clinic has also highlighted three common misconceptions surrounding eating disorders in youngsters…

  • Misconception: Eating disorders are a choice. INCORRECT. It is a mental illness that needs treatment
  • Misconception: “She/he will grow out of it,” “It’s a phase,” “This won’t go on forever” INCORRECT. If left untreated it can lead to severe malnutrition with complications such as osteoporosis or an irregular heartbeat and other mental health conditions can occur such as depression
  • Misconception: There is someone to blame for the child’s eating disorder – “It’s the mother’s / father’s fault,” “It’s the friend’s fault” INCORRECT. Blame and shame are far too common with eating disorders. It’s like any other illness and needs treatment

Real Life Account: I named my eating disorder Ursula

“I named my eating disorder Ursula, the villain from my favourite childhood movie The Little Mermaid. In many ways, my anorexia had presented characteristics that I saw in Ursula…”

Read a real-life account of living with anorexia nervosa from Ariel (name changed), one of Camali Clinic’s UAE patients HERE.

Find out more about the specialist educational programmes at Camali Clinic:

Hope for Recovery

Eating disorders are not a choice. This group teaches children and young people, who are experiencing problems with eating (bulimia and anorexia,) to develop the cognitive ability to base self-worth on areas beyond perceived body image, shape and size.

Coping with Emotions – Emotional Intelligence

The Coping with Emotions 12-week programme has been designed for children experiencing anger, stress and self-esteem issues. The group helps young people develop their emotional intelligence and self-awareness, acquiring an array of coping skills and techniques for managing difficult emotions.