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Warning signs that someone is dealing with anorexia or bulimia

As we approach World Mental Health Day, Dubai’s 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.”

Camali Clinic has highlighted five key warning signs to watch out for in youngsters which, if seen in any combination, could indicate they are suffering from one of the above…

  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

Dr Kusay Hadi

UAE CASE STUDY

“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.

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