Dr KK Aggarwal
New research from the Swansea University Medical School has identified early warning signs that someone may have an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, which may help in earlier detection of these disorders.
The results, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, showed that people diagnosed with an eating disorder had higher rates of other conditions and of prescriptions in the years before their diagnosis. The researchers examined anonymised electronic health records from GPs and hospital admissions in Wales. More than 15,000 people in Wales were diagnosed as having eating disorders between 1990 and 2017. In the 2 years before their diagnosis, data shows that these people had:
· Higher levels of other mental disorders such as personality or alcohol disorders and depression
· Higher levels of accidents, injuries and self-harm
· Higher rate of prescription for central nervous system drugs such as antipsychotics and antidepressants
· Higher rate of prescriptions for gastrointestinal drugs (e.g. for constipation and upset stomach) and for dietetic supplements (e.g. multivitamins, iron)
Eating disorders generally appear in the teen years or young adulthood. However, given the increasing peer pressure today, many younger children are also developing these conditions. Eating disorders affect both genders, although the incidence is higher in women than men. Generally, the affected person tries to hide this behavior.
Keeping an eye out for one or a combination of these factors can help GPs identify eating disorders early.
Padma Shri Awardee
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