Psychologists warn: "We cannot blame a person for having an Eating Disorder"

The Eating disorder (TCA) affect about 400,000 people in Spain, according to the latest data provided by the Fita Foundation. Mariam Fernández, ADANER psychologist, explains to OKDIARIO that society “cannot blame a person suffering from a TCA” because “the reality is that no person who has a disorder wants to be like this" ADANER a non-profit association that works to improve the care and quality of life of patients with eating disorders and their families.

QUESTION. The International Day of the fight against the TCA is celebrated every November 30. What should society as a whole know about this disease?

ANSWER. The most important is not stigmatize the disorder Because it is a problem like any other. We will never blame cancer for the person who has cancer. So why do we do it with a person with an eating disorder? It is not comparable because two diseases are not comparable, but neither do we have to blame them. They have to be done responsible for your problem, of course, and they have to recognize that if they do not take steps, it is not overcome. But we cannot be saying that ‘they lack will.’

Q .: Is it easy to fall into an eating disorder? Can anyone fall?

R .: Anyone can not fall. We always say that people who have an ACT are people who have had previous risk factors. Be careful, having previous risk factors does not mean you can have an eating disorder. Are very perfectionist people before the disorder, who seek very unreal goals, difficult to achieve, with low self-esteem, with the need to control their lives and with low tolerance for frustrations.

It always appears next to a trigger: problems with friends, not feeling adapted within your group, suffering bullying, changing the school year, the death of a close person, a divorce, maternity, menopause, going to live with your partner – something that breaks the routine and cause a stressful situation. The disorder can appear at any age.

Q .: Are they considered sick?

R .: They are people who have a psychological, emotional disorder. They suffer. They don't want to have it. Looking for a strategy to control your life that is not healthy And that's how they get hooked.

Q .: When should alarms jump in the family environment? What are the indicators that parents should observe?

A .: In the case of anorexia, physical changes are seen. In the case of bulimia no. We see emotional changes. When someone does not eat well is more isolated, more irascible. Family members always tell us that their faces change. There is no joy in his face. In the food it also shows. In the case of anorexia due to restriction, while in bulimia food may disappear or bingeing occurs.

As soon as it is detected, you have to go see a professional. And above all, don't focus on food, focus on the emotional part that is visible. Most have a deficit in social skills and do not express what they feel. Maybe they don't know how to say "no" because they want to cover everything, be the best son or daughter, the best student, athlete … in the end they explode because that level of perfectionism is impossible to handle.

If the person recognizes the disorder, the first thing is to seek treatment. And if that person does not seek treatment because he is of age and is not yet there, the family must seek to know and learn about the disorder. The more they are informed about the disorder, the more changes they will make in their life and will gradually reverberate on the affected person.

P .: Many patients will have heard: "Eat a stew." Is it counterproductive to make such comments?

R .: When someone finds out that their family member has an eating disorder, there is a kind of earthquake in the family. You live with a lot of anguish, sometimes with a lot of guilt. Thinking that your loved one has started with risky behaviors has not been able to detect in time is a hard blow. The food is the tip of the iceberg. From there, you have to leave the food aside (except in case of admission).

We must seek support in which we do not relate to food. For example, if we eat as a family, the person does not feel that everyone is watching, watching. You have to try to dramatize. Most people overcome it, there is always a percentage, as in all disorders, which are chronicled. Although at one point the disorder is chronic, you can always be better, there is always hope for the family and the affected person.

Q .: Even if it is overcome, should the affected person always be careful not to fall into old patterns?

R .: A person who has an eating disorder cannot start a diet by himself. The whole disorder begins with eating or eating chaos. A person who has suffered a disorder can not play with food because the obsession can reappear, in fact, there are relapses sometimes and nothing happens because they can be overcome. But especially at times when a situation in life that breaks the routine, the person has to be aware that they can start with behaviors that at some point have made them feel good.

Bulimia is the great unknown. There are many people who have normal weight, overweight or even morbid obesity. The person with obesity is very poorly seen, they are labeled as "vague" or "left" and sometimes have an eating disorder. Society looks at these people very badly because they say ‘they are like this because they want’, when the reality is that no person who has a disorder wants to be like that.