When people think of eating disorders they often think it’s all about women. This is not always the case: eating disorders can and DO effect males, and they can suffer from a range of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified).
According to The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at sometime in their life. Men who identify as homosexual have a higher rate of eating disorders ranking at 15% and heterosexual males at 5%. Just like their female counterparts, men with eating disorders may also suffer from depression, substance use, anxiety and excessive exercising. Males may also suffer from body dysmorphia, where they obsess over real or perceived body flaws and muscle dysmorphia, where they obsess about being small worry that they are too “little” or too frail.
As with their female counterparts, men are bombarded with media images where men are portrayed with young, tall, strong, “built” physiques…often facing media pressure to look a certain way that is not attainable for most. It can be very difficult for men struggling with eating disorders to seek treatment; they are often faced with social stigma and misunderstandings about how eating disorders affect their gender. Getting a clear diagnosis can also be problematic as many of the assessment tests used tend to use language catering to women.
The good news? Prevention and treatment are available for men suffering from an eating disorder. It is important to know the warning signs and risk factors of an eating disorder.
Psychological Factors such as
- negative emotionality
- harm avoidance
- core low self-esteem
- traits associated with avoidant personality disorder
Using these warning signs, professionals and loved ones can help identify those who are at risk for an eating disorder. It is important to keep in mind that men of all ages, shapes and sizes can suffer from any form of eating disorder or disordered eating.
Rachel Peru is a Counseling Intern at Empowerment Treatment & Counseling.
If you or someone you know needs help, talk with your health care provider or give us a call! We have a caring staff of seasoned therapists in our Glendale, Arizona offices who have experience in helping people heal from the past, find meaning and joy in the present, and embrace hope for the future. (623) 810-1663