Arguably, no mental illness is ever more misunderstood than eating disorders (ED). It has become more and more common today, yet there are still a lot of misconceptions about it. In many cases, it’s what’s keeping sufferers from getting professional help.
Misunderstood and misjudged, they would rather battle it out alone than be ridiculed with false beliefs. If you suspect that your loved one is suffering ED, it’s important to have the right perspective about the disorder. With that, here’s the truth behind the most common myths:
Myth #1: ED is just another version of intense diet
The first thing you need to understand is that ED isn’t a lifestyle choice that you can just adapt, abandon, or take a break in whenever you like. This myth is dangerous as it assumes that sufferers simply just have to start eating to resolve their problems. In truth, it’s not a choice – it’s a disorder.
It’s a serious illness that develops due to many factors. There’s genetics – it’s likely that someone will have ED if he or she has a loved one who has a history. There’s also the fact that sufferers often exhibit obsessive-compulsive traits, which lead them to think they have to lose and lose weight.
This is why anorexia nervosa treatments influence patterns of thinking to change one’s behavior.
Myth #2: ED patients are sickly thin
Although ED patients are often thin and starve themselves for long periods, you won’t see these symptoms in some cases. In fact, a person who was overweight and now has a normal weight may just be anorexic or bulimic.
That’s because you don’t have to be so thin to have ED – anorexia and bulimia are largely about having a distorted body image.
Myth #3: Only women get ED
Men are at risk for developing ED as well. In fact, it’s estimated that 10 million males may suffer ED at one point in their lives. But because of society that looks down on men who need help, some sufferers are less likely to submit themselves to treatment, which leaves them helpless.
This is why it’s important to create a safe space in your home where everyone – regardless of gender – can speak up about struggles. And make sure that you listen attentively when family members do share their problems.
Know the truth behind common misconceptions about ED. It’s the first step to helping your loved one.