Friday, July 18, 2008

Would this be enough to scare you?

We are all aware that anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. But what about life expectancy? An article in The National Post, a Canadian based paper, reports on a study in which Canadian doctors calculated the life expectancy of those with anorexia.

They concluded that depending on the age of onset of anorexia, anywhere from 10-40 years old, the life expectancy was reduced by 22-25 years. However, those who made a full recovery lived a normal life span.

These results were based on mortality statistics of 954 British Columbian women with anorexia over a 20 year time period. Decision analysis software which compares outcomes as death or illness among different groups was used.

Researchers "
hope their dramatic life-expectancy statistics will both motivate anorexia patients to get better, and spur governments to more generously fund work on the condition."


I'm not sure whether this study will help as much as these researchers may hope. Scare type tactics only do and mean so much. I think for many when they are at the height of their illness, they are not thinking about the future in terms of how long they are going to live. Rather, they are just trying to get through each day in one piece and cope in whatever way they can. I could be wrong about this, but I know for me, I surely was not thinking "I'm going to live 25 years less due to this eating disorder."

In terms of more funding, this could be helpful, but I don't know how much of a dent it would make. Even with the well known fact of the high mortality risk of anorexia, there hasn't been much given.

What do you think? Is this a good approach to helping those recover from anorexia? Would a scare tactic like this be meaningful to you?

Abstract: Anorexia Nervosa: A survival analysis
If you go to this link and study and click "nonsubscriber," you can see the full text.


brie said...

When I have been full-blown in my ED, I probably would've been relieved to know I might die sooner - for really, life was pretty awful. But now that I'm working toward recovery, and want to live, this is quite scary, and a real eye-opener. Wow.

And...I never said anything...because, well, when you sent me that beautiful email, I was very depressed, and unfortunately when I get that way I kind of shut down and cut off contact with everybody, but I wanted to say thank you, thank you for the wonderful email you wrote me. You barely know me, but you care about me, and believe it or not, that helped me get through that dark space I was in. You are a wonderful person, I know it. :)

xo to you

Tiptoe said...

Brie, indeed, it is a scary statistics, and I think depending on what place you are in your illness, you view it differently.

You're welcome for the e-mail. I am unfortunately all too familiar with that deep, dark, black hole, so I can understand where you are coming from. I'm really glad that it helped you get through the rough patch.