Friday, May 15, 2009

BBC - Anorexic Says Men Need More Help

This topic has been up lately, both among my friends and my clients. More men than ever before are becoming anorexic (and bulimic), and suffering from other forms of body dysmorphic disorder.

[It should be noted that I include anorexia as a form of BDD, but the DSM-IV does not. BDD is typically distinguished from these eating disorders, for a variety of very good reasons. Anorexia, much more than bulimia, appears to be a type of BDD - which is in the spectrum of obsessive compulsive disorders - in that the individual is obsessed with being fat, an incorrect perception of their body image, or in need of control.]

Chris Hardy said he felt uncomfortable handing over control to care workers

A teenage man from Cornwall treated for an eating disorder has spoken out to tell other sufferers that there is "life beyond anorexia".

Nineteen-year-old Chris Hardy said controlling what he ate had given him a sense of achievement.

But when he realised he needed help, he sought treatment for seven months at the specialist Haldon Unit in Exeter.

He said: "I hope men don't think they will show themselves up because they want help for this problem."

Chris Hardy said that he was not sure when his disorder started, but he thought several things led to it.

Perhaps it's a way of trying to understand and control the world that's going on around them
Vanessa Ford, Haldon Unit

He said: "A lot of stuff happened at 11 or 12 that was quite traumatic. My parents divorced, I moved school, moved house. And then you also start to become more aware of body image at that age anyway."

When he moved to Cardiff to study medicine at university, his food intake dropped dramatically.

He said: "I would count out the exact number of pieces of cereal to eat to have each morning, have a cracker lunchtime, and then maybe a few bits of pasta in the evening.

"It was nothing really, but even that seemed too much and I would work on reducing it the next day. That was how I got a sense of achievement."

At one time his Body Mass index (BMI), which the Department of Health defines as the most common method of evaluating to see if people are under or overweight, was 15.

The range described as normal is 18.5 and 24.99.

When he could no longer concentrate in lectures, he got help. Staff at the unit supported him with therapy while getting him to eat properly again.

'Traumatic things'

According to national support charity B-eat, more than 11,000 male patients are receiving treatment nationally. But it is thought this represents only a small proportion of those who have the condition and are keeping it hidden.

Haldon Unit service manager Vanessa Ford said the unit had seen a rise in the number of male patients, and that the reasons for men suffering from eating disorders were the same as those for women.

She said: "Perhaps various traumatic things have happened in their lives, and perhaps it's a way of trying to understand and control the world that's going on around them."

Chris Hardy said he felt that control was taken away from him when he first started treatment.

But he added: "I had to have faith that the care team knew what they were doing."

Now leaving the unit, Chris Hardy said he was planning to return to university and that he wanted others in his position to seek help.

No comments: