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The Truth about Eating Disorders
by Mel June 1st 2010, 05:12 AM

Article featured in Avatar - Volume 3, Issue 11 (May 2010).


The Truth about Eating Disorders
By Jessie (Asylum)

Eating disorders are characterized by abnormal eating habits resulting in insufficient or excessive food intake. There are many types of eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and eating disorder not otherwise specified. Like many other psychiatric disorders, there are misconceptions surrounding eating disorders and those living with them. Here are some of those most common myths revealed:

Myth: Eating disorders arenít serious; they are just a phase. Fact: Eating disorders are very serious conditions which develop due to a combination of biological, environmental and psychological causes, and can cause life threatening complications and sometimes death. Anorexia nervosa is suspected to have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, according to a 1995 analysis of mortality rate associated with anorexia published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Myth: Only famous women and teenage girls have eating disorders. Fact: Anyone of any age, gender, socioeconomic status and race can have an eating disorder. In fact, according to a June 2002 report in the Alternative Medicine Review, eating disorders are believed to affect one million males and five to ten million females in the United States alone.

Myth: Eating disorders are about food. Fact: In many cases, eating disorders are about the perceived gain and feelings one gets from restricting, indulging, purging, or engaging in other disordered behaviors. A person with an eating disorder may feel the only source of control they have over their life is their food intake, so they control their eating in an attempt to gain a more desirable state of existence.

Myth: The media causes eating disorders. Fact: The media is an environmental cause of eating disorders, but is not the source of the problem. While glamorization of unhealthy body weight and thinness by the media may be a contributing factor to the development of eating disorders, the media is not solely responsible for this epidemic.

Myth: All people with eating disorders are severely underweight. Fact: Although those with eating disorders are at risk of becoming dangerously underweight, low body weight is not always an indication that someone has an eating disorder. In the same sense, it cannot be inferred that everyone of healthy or above average body weight does not have an eating disorder.

Myth: People with eating disorders do not eat candy or other sweets. Fact: Although it is common for a person with an eating disorder to have rules about foods they cannot eat, people with eating disorders eat foods of all types, including sweets.

Myth: One cannot recover from an eating disorder. Fact: It is not impossible to become fully recovered from an eating disorder. Although full recovery rates for eating disorders are estimated to be low, remission rates for those with eating disorders are estimated at between 75 and 83%.

With increased awareness and understanding of eating disorders and those who have eating disorders, both remission and full recovery rates can rise. And with proper support, those suffering through life with an eating disorder can begin to live again.
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