By Konstantin Ryzhkova, Russia
As a physician, I faced challenges with various eating disorders in the 1990s, immediately after the collapse of the USSR. On account of my professional activity I provided consultations, treatment and support of individuals and their families affected by eating disorders. I had a chance to witness some remarkable and interesting metamorphosis in the post-Soviet space in Russia and in the Republic of Georgia. In the past two years I’ve been training, teaching and learning specialists, and engaged in eating disorders related research.
Social stigma marginalises affected people
The trends and common challenges among eating disorders in Russia are mainly connected with the basic understanding of the idea of the market economy and not with objective “biopsychosocial” approach. These trends led to the development of the extremely discrimination, controversial and even cultic forms of assisting this particularly complex cluster of patients.
The most significant issue in this field at the moment is constantly expanding social stigma, achieved through mass media, further marginalizing the affected people.
Marketing of services which are not evidence-based
Many services in the field of eating disorders operate according to the principal of the strict hierarchical subservient when patients’ emotional addiction is created through the charisma of the leader of the organizations.
These organizations use aggressive and artistic forms of network marketing to impose unnecessary services among people (for example, biologically active dietary supplements [BADS] and other unreliable supplements). Alongside they impose nutritional advice, cosmetic procedures and fitness services on patients. These organizations often use addiction medicine principals specialized to treat people with alcoholic or drug addiction. Such principals are prevailing in the treatment of eating disorders.
Another issue is biological determinism, when psychiatrists, dietitians, endocrinologists tend to prescribe antidepressant drugs and sometimes dubious detoxification services.
Evidence-based treatment in infancy
However, treatment and prevention work is lacking development. It has been just two years since some major Russian organizations started to promote and even use psychotherapeutic techniques and approaches that come from CBT. But the general number of patients is only around 1000.
Positive steps symbolise World Eating Disorders Action Day
We strive to do much on our own to promote World Eating Disorders Action Day in our region. We are organising face-to-face meetings with leading specialists, promoting the Day via mass media, have created community on social networks (https://www.facebook.com/events/1541782616123047/), and we have even provided a free initial consultation for everybody who thinks that they have an eating disorder.
On June 2, we are having an event with regional political leaders, youth organizations, state authorities, business circles and media outlets to make this day count.
I’m president of Psychiatry and Psychology Center which is a part of CBT association in Russia (http://www.associationcbt.ru/).
World Eating Disorders Action Day on June 2, 2016 is the truly remarkable event I believe will mean a very different course for everybody affected by this problem. I do believe we can be a global community capable to make changes!
Join Konstantin in supporting World Eating Disorders Action Day. Be sure to follow along on Twitter @WorldEDDay and hashtag #WeDoAct, #WorldEDActionDay, @WorldEatingDisordersAction on Instagram and World Eating Disorders Action Day on Facebook.