Stigmas about Eating Disorders

Talking About Eating Disorders

When it comes to discussing mental illness, public conversations remain hushed. Talking about health in general can be difficult for most individuals. There’s an additional stigma in discussing mental and behavioral health, perhaps especially when such issues become so physically visible.

On October 27, 2015 the second annual March Against Eating Disorders took place in Washington, D.C. In preparation for the event, the Chicago Tribune profiled one advocate and mother, who openly and avidly discusses her daughter’s battle with anorexia in a blog, and the negative responses she has received as a result.

In the article, writer Heidi Stevens quotes Wendy Lipshultz:

“If [my daughter] had cancer or diabetes or pick-your-illness, we’d have no shame about it. We’d say, ‘Becca has cancer, and we need your support.’ Why should I hide this?”

Eating Disorders in Men

While public awareness of the media’s thin ideal is increasing, the stigma surrounding eating disorders persists–especially within the male population, where the illness is less accepted and, thus, remains largely unreported.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 10 million men in the United States will suffer from a “clinically significant eating disorder” each year.

Yet, health statistics have shown that only about one million of these men will report it.

In a Huffington Post article titled “The Problem With ‘Manorexia’ And Why We Need A Gender-Neutral Approach To Eating Disorders,” Rachel Gebreyes quotes Sam Thomas, founder of the organization Men Get Eating Disorders Too:

“The message ought to be that eating disorders have no gender. … Anybody and everybody can be a sufferer of eating disorders.”

What We Think Eating Disorders Look Like

Misconceptions regarding eating disorders, including that they merely affect women, affect more than one’s ability to admit that they need help. In some cases, these preconceived ideas can prevent individuals from getting help, should their insurance provider deem them ineligible for coverage.

Contrary to popular belief, eating disorders are not always evident by one’s appearance. In many cases, an eating disorder will be apparent only in one’s behaviors as individuals will maintain a perceivably normal weight.

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED), formerly known as Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), cover five subtypes of eating disorders that vary from well-known cases of Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa.

According to the Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) website, one subtype of OSFED known as Atypical Anorexia Nervosa occurs when individuals do not meet the low weight criteria for anorexia.

Eating Disorder Treatment at GenPsych

If you or someone you know is in need of eating disorder treatment in New Jersey, GenPsych is here to help. Our Brick and Livingston locations offer Healthy Eating and Living (HEAL) programs to those suffering from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and eating disorders not otherwise specified. Our team of therapists, dietitians, nurses and physicians are here to help those suffering from eating disorders to break free from the debilitating rules and obsessions of disordered eating and thinking, so that they can have a more peaceful relationship with food, their bodies, and their life. Call our admissions office at (855) 436-7792 or click here for more information or to schedule an appointment.