Do you have an eating disorder or know someone who does?

8 November, 2019 | Dr Sharon Wilkinson

An eating disorder can affect both women and men and can become a very debilitating condition. If left untreated, an eating disorder may result in hospitalisation or in extreme cases may result in death. Eating disorders are prevalent in our society yet the actual number of people affected are unknown often because many people remain untreated.

While healthy eating is optimum for improving both our physical and mental health the opposite is true for unhealthy eating patterns. Unhealthy eating is disordered eating with several variations: The following are known eating disorders that can debilitate both body and mind: Anorexia Nervosa, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder, and Gender and Eating Issues.

Being able to detect someone with an eating disorder can be hard to identify even by our closest family members and friends. Many people believe that an eating disorder is related to being extremely underweight, however an eating disorder affects people of all shapes and sizes. Some people may battle with their weight with varying degrees of episodes of control and not be aware that psychological help may help them to live a life that does not revolve around food.

Occasionally the person may deny the existence of an eating disorder making treatment difficult as they will not seek help. An eating disorder can affect both our physical and mental health with varying consequences.

Seeking treatment can be confusing. Look for professional help from suitably qualified and experienced health care providers who are experienced with treating eating disorders.


Seek support from suitably qualified professionals including medical practitioners and allied health, including clinical psychologists and dieticians who are willing to work collaboratively to achieve therapeutic goals.

Not all psychologist have the same level of experience in working with eating disorders. Therefore when selecting a professional to provide treatment ensure they can demonstrate evidence of training and ongoing professional development in the areas of eating disorders. The Australian Centre for Eating Disorders (ACFED), The Australian and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders (ANZAED) and the Butterfly Foundation are helpful places to start your search.