Many people take pride in calling themselves foodie. Such people love to eat and seldom say no to food. A foodie is characterized by his interest in tasting different food items and delicacies of all kind. However, not everyone with love for food is a foodie. Alternatively, a person might be suffering from an eating disorder.
Eating disorder is a type of mental illness wherein a person suffers from disturbances in eating pattern and behavior. The disorder can turn serious and fatal if not treated on time. Symptoms such as obsession with food and issues with body weight (underweight or overweight) can be indicative of development of an eating disorder.
Eating disorders can develop irrespective of gender, age, race, ethnicity, culture, size, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation. Albeit, the mental illness is majorly associated with women. It has always been women who are known for skipping meals to get into shape. Also, commercials and movies picturize women developing eating disorder to curb their depression and anxiety. However, the fact of the matter is that eating disorder is equally prevalent in men.
10 million men suffer from eating disorders in US
In the Unites States, nearly 10 million men suffer from eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. The statistics clearly dismisses the past characterization that associated eating disorder with women. Though eating disorders are not gender specific, many men shy away from confronting their disorder due to the stigma attached to its acceptance. Thus, the actual number of men with eating disorders can be higher than the recorded.
Currently, eating disorder remains undiagnosed in many men. In many cases, while men do acknowledge or accept the prevalence of the disorder in them, they do not seek any professional help. The general perception considers a man with eating disorder to be feminine or gay. Hence, men are hardly seen discussing issues related to their body weight and shape. Instead, they tend to pursue options like hitting the gym and excessive exercising.
Types of eating disorders in men
There are primarily three types of eating disorders in men – anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Of the three, bulimia is more common in men than anorexia, which is more common in women.
With better awareness and more men taking steps towards treating the illness, anorexia is diagnosed in boys as young as eight. Various studies have revealed that of all the patients suffering from binge eating disorder, 40 percent are male.
Anorexia nervosa: It is the condition where the person refuses to eat to maintain body weight. Such people are conscious about growing overweight and deliberately skip eating to avoid adding any weight to the body.
Bulimia nervosa: The condition implies eating large quantities of food within a short period of time. People with bulimia further get rid of excessive calories through vomiting, excessive exercise or laxative abuse.
Binge eating: It is also known as compulsive overeating where the person undergoes episodes of uncontrollable eating and consumes excessive amount of food.
Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED): While this type of eating disorder does not have any specific characterization, it causes significant distress or impairment in the person. Any other pattern of eating behavior that does not come under aforementioned types, is categorized under OSFED.
Challenging the stigma
Thus, eating disorders are found both in men and women. However, stigma prevents men from seeking medical help. This worsens the condition further. It is necessary for the sufferers, be it men or women, to come forward for diagnosis and seek treatment for the illness.
If your loved one is suffering from any kind of mental illness, contact the California Mental Health Helpline. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 559-3923 or chat online to speak with our representatives who are committed to guide you to one of the best mental health centers in California.