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Thursday 26 January 2012

Let's move to Sussex...

In April 2011, F.E.A.S.T. launched the Google Yourself campaign.  As I was looking around local NHS websites in the South East of the UK recently, I thought I should point out some of the places you may choose NOT to live, based on their Eating Disorders websites.  Notes in red are mine - please note they have been tempered from my original notes which contained a lot of rude words!

Surrey & Borders Partnership
What are the causes of eating disorders?
Basically, anyone can get an eating disorder. However, there are some "risk factors" that make it more likely that someone will get the symptoms of an eating disorder (The symptoms?  What do they mean by that - someone will get the symptoms.  Does this mean they do not have an eating disorder?  What a load of nonsense). This is not a complete list but some of the main ones include:
  • Disturbed relationship with parent or parents (although one study showed no connection with this at all er...I think you'll find it hard to find a RECENT study that connects parenting with eating disorders.) e.g. the child feeling over-controlled, not being able to talk properly to his/her parents, or with critical or unaffectionate parents Why don't you try and ram the point home harder - the Surrey NHS believes that parents cause eating disorders.  Run, people, run.
  • Being female - slightly more common in females, although the symptoms may show differently in males (Huh?)
  • Media influence - the "thin is good" message, with younger people trying to become thin to match this (so this is a self inflicted condition because younger ed sufferers want to look thin?)
  • Biological factors e.g. perhaps low serotonin in the brain may lead to a weakness towards having an eating disorder (There was a brief moment of a glimmer of light there but no, no mention of genetics, brain disorders, etc.  No.  Their take, alongside dreadful, disengaged, cold, heartless parents and wanting to look thin is that low serotonin may lead to a "weakness" towards an eating disorder - what language is that?  iPhone?)
  • Trauma in childhood (Everybody suffers some kind of trauma of varying degrees.  Not everybody gets an eating disorder)
  • Having mild depression as a child (3 times more likely) (Er, there's a clue.  Brain circuitry?)

What a load of codswallop.  Evidence base please, Surrey.  However, should you have the misfortune to be in Sussex, you are totally stuffed:

Currently Health in Mind cannot work with people who have the following difficulties as their main presenting problem:

  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Bi-polar disorder
  • Child and adolescent problems
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome or ME
  • Chronic pain.

Well, that's comforting.  Mental health problems in Sussex are obviously so non-existent they don't need services.  Let's all move to Sussex then.

In Kent, they proudly announce that their Eating Disorders information was last updated in 2007.  However, you cannot access any information on Mental Health or Eating Disorders, so Kent appears to be a black hole.

So how about Hampshire?  Well, after much too and froing I was eventually directed to the Mental Health Foundation, who have this to say:

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are serious mental health problems more common in women than in men.

What are eating disorders?

You may be diagnosed with an eating disorder if your eating habits threaten your health and happiness or threaten the health and happiness of the people who care for you. (Trying really hard not to be flippant...and failing...the eating habits of most teenagers threaten the health and happiness of parents.  Just saying)
The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. These affect about 2% of adult females and some men. Both are serious mental health problems and anyone experiencing them needs a great deal of help and understanding.

Anorexia nervosa

People with anorexia nervosa don't eat enough, usually because they feel that their problems are caused by what they look like. (I will leave Extralongtail to comment on that) They think that they appear fat even though they may look slim or even painfully thin to others. Their morale becomes low and their health can be seriously affected. Because they are not eating enough they may develop a number of physical problems including poor circulation, brittle bones and hair loss, as well as kidney disease.

Bulimia nervosa

People with bulimia nervosa can’t stick to a healthy eating pattern. They tend to binge, that is, eat a lot at once. This makes them feel guilty and out of control (Control?  In an eating disorder?  Now there's an evidence based concept.....) so they then panic and punish themselves by starving, making themselves sick, taking laxatives or over-exercising. This can lead to a number of physical problems including tooth decay, constipation and intestinal damage, as well as heart and kidney disease. Telltale signs of bulimia nervosa include making excuses to avoid eating in company or rushing to the lavatory after a meal.

What causes eating disorders?

Eating disorders usually have underlying causes. For example, if you are a teenager, hormone changes and lack of confidence, or problems such as bullying or difficulties with schoolwork, can trigger the conditions. Refusing or bingeing on food may make you feel you have some control over your life. (Arghhhh.  Control issues are a SYMPTOM of the illness, not the illness itself.  There is so much wrong with this paragraph that I want to cry!)
Some people attribute eating disorders to media and fashion. It is fashionable in western culture to be slim. This is not possible for everyone as we are naturally all different shapes and sizes. People with eating disorders very often feel that they can only ever be happy or successful if they can be more like images portrayed in the media. (This is, again, an end stage symptom of an eating disorder, not the disorder itself.  Again, I expect Extralongtail may have something to say about this.  Where is the evidence base for this stuff?  I have yet to meet an eating disorder patient who thinks they will be happy or successful, let alone someone who thinks they will be happy or successful if they look like someone in the newspapers........)

Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire are pretty unforthcoming about anything at all but they do link you to this, so I suppose that is good.  However, Berkshire gets the gold star for information sources and lack of prejudice.  It is not exactly perfect, but at least they admit that they don't know, rather than spout forth some outdated prejudice.

This involves eating habits rooted in a fear of being overweight, which involve eating either too much or too little and often using harmful methods to prevent weight gain. It is thought that one million people in Britain suffer from an eating disorder. The two most common disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
Useful Information sources
If you, a friend or relative are experiencing mental health problems for the first time and need treatment, you shouldcontact your GP. They will be able to refer you, if necessary, to the most appropriate mental health service in your area.

1 comment:

  1. I can't work out which county you thought was the best - i stand by Surrey as that is where I got help but I suppose it wasn't on the NHS so it can't really count! X