Eating disorders unfortunately affect more people than you probably think. About 24 million people suffer from eating disorders around the world, with anorexia being the third most chronic illness in young people. Those are some big, big numbers.
Even though eating disorders are so prevalent, there are so many misconceptions about them. They are certainly not something that should be taken lightly or made fun of. Eating disorders fall under mental health because they are serious mental health conditions that cause serious damage.
This year, the American Psychiatric Association released the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which had some important changes regarding eating disorders. “The DSM-IV Criterion D requiring amenorrhea, or the absence of at leastthree menstrual cycles, will be deleted. This criterion cannot be applied to males, pre-menarchalfemales, females taking oral contraceptives and post-menopausal females.”
This was a big step because eating disorders don’t just affect females, which is a common myth. Here are some other myths about anorexia that just are not true.
Anorexia Is About Attention
Many claim that those suffering from anorexia are just looking for attention or are fishing for compliments, which is just not true. People with anorexia really do believe what their brain is telling them about their body. They aren't doing it to get attention, they're often doing it to cope with serious issues that are taking the form of the disease.
It's Just A Phase
Anorexia is not a phase, it's a disease. It's not something you just grow out of, and it's harder to recover the longer you're struggling with it. Those suffering from anorexia can be treated and recover, but those thoughts don't just disappear. Recovery is a continual process.
Only Girls Get Anorexia
False. And when guys get it, it's not called "manorexia," it's still anorexia. Eating disorders aren't for one gender or race. They can affect anyone. In fact, 1 in 10 cases of eating disorders involve males.
Dieting Causes Anorexia
Going on a diet or watching what you eat does not cause anorexia. Even though anorexia involves a preoccupation with food and dieting and involves restricting one's diet, it is a disease that is caused by factors far deeper than a diet.
They're Making It Up
People with anorexia and other eating disorders see themselves very differently from the way you see them. If you see someone thin, they're experiencing something very different when they look in the mirror. They're experiencing body dysmorphia and often focus on a specific body part.
If They Eat, It's Not Anorexia
There's a common misconception that if someone with anorexia eats, they aren't anorexic. Anorexia comes in all kinds of varieties. Some who suffer may not eat at all. Some may binge eat and then not eat and continue the pattern. Some may eat a normal amount of food for a few days but then be extremely strict for the next few days.
Being Thin Means You're Anorexic
Completely false. Just because someone is thin or very skinny does not mean they are anorexic or are suffering from any kind of eating disorder. People come in all shapes and sizes. Some people are very thin naturally.
You Can't Die From Anorexia
So false. Anorexia nervosa actually has one of the highest death rates of any mental condition, and between 5-20% of sufferers die from the disease. Chances of death increases the longer someone is suffering.
It’s important to be informed about eating disorders so you can help yourself or a friend who may be suffering. If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, you can get help. Call the National Eating Disorders Association Hotline 1-800-931-2237 to talk to someone or visit their website to chat online.
Did you think any of these myths were true? Tell us in the comments!