Saturday, 18 Sep 2021

Tom Fletcher health: ‘I went through a tough time’ Strictly star on his health struggles

Strictly: Tom Fletcher announced as contestant

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Tom Fletcher, who is taking part in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing competition, published an autobiography titled Unsaid Things… Our Story. It was in these revealing details that Tom admitted to struggling with an eating disorder. “I wanted to lose weight,” he confessed. “But rather than going about it the sensible way, I pretty much stopped eating. I’d go to Starbucks and order a Frappuccino and blueberry muffin and that was me for the day. It was an obsession, and a deeply unhealthy one.”

Anorexia is an eating disorder and serious mental health condition, explained the NHS.

The health body continued: “People who have anorexia try to keep their weight as low as possible by not eating enough food or exercising too much, or both.

“This can make them very ill because they start to starve.

“They often have a distorted image of their bodies, thinking they’re fat even when they’re underweight.

“Men and women of any age can get anorexia.”

Tom recalled his lowest moments talking to Heatworld, when he opened up about his depression.

“I went through a tough time with depression,” he said.

“For a long time, I didn’t really recognise what that was.”

As soon as he did realise his mental health was suffering, Tom reached out for support.

Eating disorders and depression

In a 2008 study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 24 percent of bipolar patients met the criteria for eating disorders.

An estimated 44 percent had trouble controlling their eating.

Depression also plagues many people with anorexia, another common eating disorder.

Studies show that anorexics are 50 times more likely than the general population to die as a result of suicide.

“Being severely underweight and malnourished, which is common in anorexia, can cause physiological changes that are known to negatively affect mood states,” said Dr Lisa Lilenfeld, an associate professor of clinical psychology at Argosy University in Arlington, Va., who specialises in eating disorders.

Depression in people with eating disorders typically has its own unique features, according to Dr Ira Sacker, an eating disorders specialist at Langone Medical Center at New York University.

He added: “People who develop eating disorders feel as people that they’re not good enough.

“They become obsessed with perfectionism.

“That perfectionism begins to focus on what they eat. But underlying it is depression and anxiety. Often, these patients have suffered a lot of emotional trauma.

“It was a really defining moment of my life,” Fletcher revealed. “It was so important that I went to speak to someone. That really changed my life.”

He added: “Admitting [that] you are struggling with anything is the hardest bit.

“If you’re overwhelmed or stressed or feeling depressed, the first and most challenging bit is recognising that yourself and telling someone about it.”

He urged: “That’s first and most significant step. Talk to someone, whether that’s your partner, a family member or a professional.”

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