By Dalia Darweesh
Edited by Nessreen Tamano
Beauty, Self-Worth, and Body Image.
We go through so much pressure about our physical appearance on a daily basis and, especially in the age of social media where we are exposed to what we now know to be unrealistic and unachievable beauty ideals, this could lead to countless disorders.
An eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight.
Eating disorders have, unfortunately, become too common in our generation, but also in teens and pre-teens, who account for a majority of patients diagnosed. In Saudi, the reality is that many people don’t consider these as “serious” disorders, and there remains a lack of awareness what psychological and physical issues, underlying or otherwise, cause and aggravate them.
Growing up, I was confident in my own body, but only up until the age of 17. I moved to the US at the time to pursue my Bachelor’s degree, and the stress of being in a new environment, so far away from home, somehow changed the way I perceived my physical appearance.
I started wanting to be as skinny as possible, starving myself, and when people would comment that I looked sick, I brushed it off as jealousy on their part.
I would eventually overcome this phase with time and the support of my family, but this is not always the case for many people, even those who manage to control it.
Dr Razan Al Ghassab, Family Medicine Resident at the National Guard Health Affairs in Riyadh, explains that eating disorders are considered chronic problems and therefore are not cured with medication alone. Therapy is also necessary. “It’s important to deal with therapists, psychiatrists, or physicians experienced in eating disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is available locally,” she says.
Centers in Saudi Arabia you can visit for eating disorders:
Behavior Modification and Psychiatric Center
Location: Unayzah St., Ar Rawdah Dist.
Abeer Medical Center
Location: Jabir ibn Al Numaan St., Al Khalij Dist., Dammam
Location: Prince Sultan Branch Rd., Al Mohammadiyyah Dist.
Middle East Eating Disorders Association (MEEDA)
people with bulimia may secretly binge eat and then purge, getting rid of extra calories in an unhealthy way.
The concept of going to therapy for an eating disorder, particularly in Saudi, should be just as normal as going to the dentist, especially as it is a long-term issue and will likely need multiple, regular visits to a therapist. Consistency in managing triggers and developing the right skill set is taught in CBT, which helps patients deal with the disorders.
Raising awareness and openly discussing eating disorders and issues also help; being silent about them often cause misconceptions that can hurt both the patient and their loved ones.
consuming unusually large amounts of food and feeling unable to stop eating.
“Social media is a powerful tool, if used right. Knowing that you are not going through difficult times alone is a great help for many patients,” says Dr Razan. Overcoming the social and cultural barriers associated with eating disorders through sharing knowledge and our own personal experiences can only have a positive impact in our society.