Eating Disorders: Myths vs. Facts You Need to Know

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The statistics on eating disorders are alarming. According to recent reports, there was a 25% rise during the Covid-19 pandemic. The National Eating Disorder Association’s helpline also reported a 40% increase in call volume.

Eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are serious mental illnesses. They are characterized by an obsession with food, weight, and appearance. Eating disorders often develop during adolescence or young adulthood but can occur at any age.

If you know a loved one suffering from an eating disorder, know that it is never too late to get help. Discerning eating disorder facts from myths can be difficult, but it is crucial to understanding and supporting your loved one. The following are just examples of some myths and facts about eating disorders:

Fact: With Treatment, Most People With Eating Disorders Recover Completely

Treatment for eating disorders usually involves a combination of therapy, medication, and nutritional counseling. Early identification and treatment of eating disorders have been proven to improve the speed at which individuals recover and reduce symptoms more than just managing them functionally.

Additionally, early intervention can also help prevent someone from developing anorexia or bulimia altogether. This means the earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the higher the chance of your loved one making a full recovery. The key is to get them help as soon as possible.

For instance, you suspect that a loved one is showing the classic signs of bulimia, like binge eating followed by purging through vomiting or using laxatives. Bulimia nervosa is a severe mental illness that requires professional help, so don’t wait to get your loved one the treatment they need. By helping your loved ones realize their need to undergo bulimia rehab, you can increase their chances of making a full recovery. Finding a local provider offering eating disorder treatment programs near you will make it easier for your loved one to get the help they need and start on the road to recovery.

Myth: Eating Disorders Are a Choice

Many people who don’t understand eating disorders think sufferers can simply “snap out of it.” However, eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that require professional treatment. Having an eating disorder is not merely a choice that someone can make or unmake.

Maintaining anorexia nervosa or bulimia requires significant time and energy from those who practice it. It takes more than just a desire for thinner clothes. These practices also involve restriction in dieting behaviors, which can prove difficult when not surrounded by people promoting healthy lifestyles that offer support during tough moments.

So, if you want to help your loved one overcome their eating disorder, avoid telling them to just “eat already” or that they’re “choosing to be sick.” Instead, try to be supportive and understand that this is an actual mental illness that requires treatment.

woman on a diet

Fact: Many People With Eating Disorders Don’t Have a History of Dieting or Weight Loss

Eating disorders are often thought of as a way to lose weight. However, many people with eating disorders don’t have a history of dieting or weight loss. In fact, some people with eating disorders are actually overweight or obese.

This is because eating disorders are not about weight loss. They are about using food to cope with underlying emotional issues. For many people with eating disorders, focusing on food and weight is a way to avoid dealing with the real problem.

So, if you suspect a loved one has an eating disorder, don’t assume they are doing it to lose weight. Instead, try to get to the root of the problem and see if there are any underlying issues they need to address.

Myth: Only Young Women Suffer From Eating Disorders

Many people believe only women can have eating disorders. This is since most of the research on eating disorders has been conducted on women. However, this does not mean that men also do not suffer from eating disorders. In fact, research shows that up to 10% of people with eating disorders are men.

Eating disorders do not discriminate. Anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status, can develop an eating disorder. While it is true that young women are more likely to suffer from eating disorders, men and women of all ages can be affected. So, ensure you don’t exclude men when discussing eating disorders.

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that need the expertise of professionals. By understanding the facts and knowing the different myths surrounding eating disorders, you can help your loved one get the treatment they need to make a full recovery. If you think someone you know might have an eating disorder, don’t hesitate to seek help. The sooner they get treatment, the better their chances are of making a full recovery.

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