What People Get Wrong About Eating Disorders

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Eating disorders are complex and can be confusing for many to understand. To complicate matters further, there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding eating disorders. This can cause families to delay treatment or undermine the severity of the situation.

In reality, eating disorders are very serious and have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Every hour, at least one person dies in the U.S. from an eating disorder. And while these disorders can be successfully treated, only 1 in 10 people ever receives treatment.

If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it’s important to know the facts about eating disorders. Below are some things that people often get wrong about these complex illnesses.

Eating disorders are not just about food.

Probably one of the main misconceptions about eating disorders is that they are about food. It may appear this way because the person becomes obsessive about what they eat, but eating disorders are rooted in biological, psychological and sociocultural aspects. Individuals struggling with eating disorders may use behaviors such as restricting, binging, purging or over-exercising as a way to control something in their life.

Eating disorders are not a choice.

Eating disorders are complex psychiatric illnesses that people don’t choose for themselves – and parents are not responsible for causing. Several decades of research tells us that biological factors play a significant role in who develops an eating disorder. Eating disorders also commonly occur alongside other mental health conditions like major depression, anxiety disorders or PTSD.

Men and boys can develop eating disorders, too.

While it’s true that more women suffer from eating disorders than men, males are still affected. A recent Harvard study found that up to 25 percent of men struggle with bulimia or anorexia and up to 40 percent with binge eating disorder. These are far different findings from the 10 percent reported in earlier studies.

People with eating disorders look healthy.

Anorexia is characterized by extremely low weight, but people with bulimia, binge eating disorder or EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) are often normal-weighted. In fact, people who binge eat tend to be at a higher weight. In other words, you can’t tell if someone has an eating disorder simply by looking at them.

You can fully recover from an eating disorder.

Changing eating habits can be extremely difficult, even when you don’t have an eating disorder. Therefore, it’s important for people to know that you can’t just flip a switch and be cured from an eating disorder. These illnesses require long-term treatment that involves psychological therapy, nutrition education, medical monitoring and medication.

Find Treatment for an Eating Disorder

Managing an eating disorder is an ongoing process, and it is possible to fully recover and live a happy, healthy life. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, contact CTRLCare where you will receive the highest quality of care and personalized treatment planning in a supportive, nurturing environment.