Tomorrow, Wednesday 20th of October is World Osteoporosis Day. Since those with Eating Disorders are at increased risk of developing Osteoporosis, I wanted to create this post.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the density of the bones is significantly reduced. This loss of density results in bones being fragile and more likely to break. Although Osteoporosis is typically talked about as a disease of older adults, it is, unfortunately, a reasonably common occurrence in those with Eating Disorders.
Research suggests that those with the Eating Disorder Anorexia Nervosa are most at risk, especially if they also engage in binging and purging. However, all those who become underweight are at increased risk, as well as those who over exercise. Additionally, research on people with Bulimia Nervosa has indicated that they are also at increased risk.
Perhaps this sounds like an overly medical post for a blog written by a Therapist, but I consider that understanding the risks that relate to Eating Disorders is an important part of my work. Often clients are unaware of the potential long-term consequences of their Eating Disorders, and the additional challenges they may have to face as a result. Sometimes medical consequences bring people to therapy, or will become apparent at some point in the therapeutic journey. Whatever the case, I feel it helps me some to understand at least a little bit.
Of course, it isn’t my job to give direct medical advice – and I don’t. However, I do often support clients towards taking better care of themselves, and encourage them to see their GP. Knowing that the consequence of this isn’t always good news – and for some might even be devastating – enables me to be realistic. In fact I have heard unaware professionals say things like “you don’t need to worry about it”, or “you’ll be fine once your weight is back to ‘normal'”. These untruths can be very damaging; resulting in individuals overlooking the harm of their Eating Disorder and delaying accessing appropriate medical care. Feeling that you are being taken seriously and feeling that professionals are being honest with you are also things many clients talk about as highly important.
So, this blog post is a gentle reminder to be aware that Osteoporosis can affect even young people who suffer with an Eating Disorder. The risks are greater if the client is underweight, is not menstruating, and if there has been a longer duration of illness. But, as is always the case with Eating Disorders, risk and medical complications are not always visible.
You can learn more about Osteoporosis in Eating Disorders by visiting THIS PAGE (CLICK), and you can learn more about osteoporosis in general by exploring the entire Royal Osteoporosis Society’s website: theros.org.uk