Eating disorders are a devastating and common type of mental illness which has exploded in recent years, likely due to a number of changes in culture, technology, and attitudes. The media has an unfortunate tendency to perpetuate stereotypes associated with eating disorders which confuse viewers and make it difficult to recognize a person who may have a serious problem. Here is a list of eight falsehoods about eating disorders which really need to be disproved:
You can tell a person has an eating disorder by their appearance, ie. very skinny or obese: In fact, a fat person could be bulimic and a skinny person a binge eater, or they could be average in size. It depends on the severity and length of time they have had their disorder, as well as metabolism and lifestyle factors.
Most people with eating disorders are white: In fact, eating disorders are equally prevalent among people of all colors. However, they are more often overlooked in minorities, like many other conditions.
Females are the only ones who get eating disorders: Diagnoses of eating disorders in boys and men has increased sharply in recent years.
Only teenagers get eating disorders: Teenagers are commonly thought to be the most susceptible to eating disorders, but this is untrue. People of all ages are able to have an eating disorder, and many cases affect people younger or older.
Bulimia and anorexia are the most serious eating disorders: Although these two are the most publicized and well-known eating disorders, binge eating disorder (BED) and otherwise specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFED) are also types of eating disorders. Both of these can be potentially severe.
People with eating disorders can never fully recover: With proper care and professional treatment, a person with any eating disorder can fully eliminate their condition and become a normal eater again. Unlike drug addiction or alcoholism, eating disorders are not considered a chronic condition.
Eating disorders are not a big deal: Eating disorders are more likely to result in death than any any other mental illness. This is not only because of life-threatening symptoms like malnutrition or heart failure, but also the high suicide rates of people with eating disorders. Regardless of mortality, eating disorders can cause severe and debilitating health problems, like tooth loss, high/low blood pressure, diabetes, and many others.
Eating disorders have only one cause: It is often difficult to find a single cause for any eating disorder case. Media advertisements, unrealistic expectations of the “perfect” body, low self-esteem, widespread weight loss products, peer pressure, stress, abundance of delicious snacks, and plenty of other factors can be faulted, but no one of them is singularly responsible. Every individual thinks differently, and thus their case is different from others.
Reuben Friedlander describes himself as “genius, attractive, and not particularly modest.” Reuben joined Different Brains in 2017. He enjoys video games, fantasy reading, hats, Dwarf Fortress, and writing silly humor. Reuben writes all kinds of articles for the website, while assisting with video editing and transcription.