Eating Disorders Arising from an Accident


As part of Eating Disorder Awareness week, we are taking this opportunity to raise awareness that Eating Disorders and weight gain / body image issues occur more frequently than we might think when associated with injuries suffered in an accident, assault or abuse.

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We are supporting Beat’s campaign to highlight awareness during this week.

Melanie Burden, expert lawyer from Simpson Millar solicitors explains how Eating Disorders can be brought on or worsened after suffering an injury.

"I want to help raise awareness to remove some of the stigma that can often be attached to the labelling of anyone suffering with an eating disorder and to dispel the myth that this is confined predominantly to the female sex."

"Anyone can be affected regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, background. It is important to meet with your client suffering from a serious injury or assault so you can understand how they are feeling and coping."

How can somebody develop an eating disorder after they have suffered an injury or assault?

"In over 18 years of practice as a Personal Injury Lawyer, I have all too often encountered injured claimants and victims who have gone on to develop an eating disorder or a worsening/ reawakening of a pre-existing disorder."

"Typically this can come on associated with other psychological symptoms when an injured person becomes trapped in a vicious cycle that takes no prisoners, and has no regard for age, gender, or background. If somebody is immobilised or has reduced mobility following an accident, this can lead to weight gain through inability to exercise or changing body shape through weight loss through muscle wastage and food avoidance."

This vicious cycle can spiral at an alarming rate. Any one of these consequential events following on from a serious injury or assault can act as a trigger. Just imagine how you would feel with one, let alone a combination of these things going on:

  • The appearance of a scar or deformed limb following an accident
  • Being immobilised for a long period of time
  • Not being able to exercise
  • Not being able to socialise
  • Not being able to get out from your home
  • Not being able to work
  • Missing the camaraderie of your work colleagues
  • Not being able to pay your mortgage and bills through inability to work
  • Not being able to go on holiday
  • Being dismissed from work on ill health grounds
  • Being in constant pain
  • Re-living the circumstances of the event which caused your injury or assault
  • The worry of not being able to provide for your family
  • The lack of sleep
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Change in body shape
  • The pain medication making you feel sick and drowsy
  • The effect on your mood
  • The effect on your relationship
  • The boredom being stuck at home, unable to get out

"I have noticed a rise in the number of males who are now reporting eating disorders and body issues following an injury. Keen cyclists and regular gym goers who like to train in the gym can really be affected. Sometimes there is a natural instinct to try and keep this almost under wraps and not admit and there is no substitute for meeting with your client to fully understand the impact of the accident and the injuries on them and from speaking to their loved ones to get their take on how they have been affected."

What types of eating disorder could arise following an accident or injury

Most types of eating disorder often come hand in hand with other psychological factors such as anxiety and depression.

They can include:-

  • Anorexia
  • Bulimia
  • Binge Eating Disorder ( BED )
  • Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified ( EDNOS )
  • Disordered Eating / Eating Problems

Any person who thinks they may be suffering from an eating disorder should seek advice at the earliest possible opportunity from their GP. The charity, "Beat" provides excellent guidance and support, they also have dedicated helplines.

As eating disorders are so complex, expert advice should always be sort in a Personal Injury claim from a psychiatrist specialising in eating disorders. They will be best placed to make an accurate diagnosis and provide recommendations of targeted bespoke treatment.

Help for sufferers of an eating disorder

It is widely reported that the earlier a sufferer can access treatment and advice, the more likely it is that they will make a full recovery.

There are a wide range of strategies and therapies available, depending on the symptoms, diagnosis and stage of diagnosis.

These can include:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy ( CBT )
  • Interpersonal Therapy ( IPT )
  • Modified dialectical behaviour Therapy ( DBT )
  • Family Therapy
  • Cognitive Analytic Therapy ( CAT )
  • Medication
  • Inpatient Treatment

If you have developed an Eating Disorder as a result of an accident or assault that was not your fault, we can obtain funding from the responsible party’s insurer in most circumstances to arrange a package of private treatment tailored to your needs.

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