5 myths about anorexia
5 myths about anorexia:
1.’You can tell who has anorexia, because they’ll be so underweight’
You can’t look at a person can tell if they are suffering from an eating disorder. And if you think you can – you’re assuming they have a mental health illness just from looking at them.
And you’d be wrong to do so. You can be suffering from anorexia and not have a dangerously low body weight. While some sufferers of anorexia can present with a low body weight, it is important to remember that eating disorders are mental health illness with physical symptoms, and not simply diagnosed by a number on the scales. They are complex illnesses, which require more diagnosis and treatment then how ill you think they are based on how they look.
2. ‘Anorexics never eat anything’
Whilst almost all anorexics restrict their food intake, they do eat some foods.
The difference between dieting and an eating disorder is the obsessive nature of anorexia, in which they often feel as though they are forcing themselves to eat. Anorexia isn’t a lifestyle choice, it’s a mental health illness which requires psychological support.
Seeing someone eating doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have anorexia, or that they have recovered. It’s important not to assume their diagnosis or recovery from this.
3. ‘Only teenage girls are affected’
While we often see young females that are affected by eating disorders, this does not mean that no other groups are affected by them.
How you identify as a gender, or your age, do not mean you cannot get anorexia. Eating disorders do not care what ethnicity you are, your orientation, or community you belong to, there is a possibility to develop an eating disorder.
I've worked with a wide range of age groups, genders, religions and communities, and I can say with certainty that there isn't one group who develops an eating disorder. I've seen people struggle to ask for help because they didn't think they should have an eating disorder because they don't fit the stereotype. I'm here to tell you, that regardless of how you identify, what community your part of, or your heritage, you're worthy of being helped - and you're certainly not the only one who's ever felt that way.
4.’ It’s all because of social media’
Eating disorders, including anorexia do not have a single cause. Whilst social media may play a part in some people’s experience with anorexia, there are many factors which can contribute to developing an eating disorder. Other factors such as genetics, psychological, behavioural, biological and social factors can heighten the risk.
People had anorexia before social media ever came in, whilst I appreciate that there are more pictures and posts for people to feel drawn to, there is no conclusive evidence that social media would be the singular cause for anorexia.
5. ‘Anorexia is a choice, and if you want to recover, just eat more’
Anorexia is not a choice that someone choose the have or not, and to say that they need to just eat more is not only unhelpful and insensitive, but potentially emotionally harmful for a sufferer to hear this.
While regulating eating habits may be an important part for some people’s recovery, there are many emotional and psychological issues which need to dealt with to aid recovery from an eating disorder.
Eating more isn’t the same as recovering from anorexia.
Laura Reside-Robb is a qualified psychotherapist and runs her own clinic in which she provides psychological therapies for a range of conditions, with speciality training in eating disorders. If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, or are struggling to cope with a loved one who has an eating disorder, click here to book an initial appointment.