8 Crucial Things Most People Don’t Understand About Eating Disorders

By Melissa Rose on Thought Catalog

“As of 2016, over 30 million people in the United States have a diagnosable eating disorder. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate among all mental disorders, killing one person just about every hour. Even though this is the case, many people have misconceptions about the disorder or don’t know about it at all. So here are eight things you didn’t know about eating disorders.”

1. Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorders are genetic.

It’s been found that individuals with Anorexia and Bulimia have a genetic rate of between 50 and 80%, and Binge Eating at about 50%, meaning that it runs in families. If you have a mother who is eating disordered, for example, her child is very likely to develop the same disorder that their mother has.

2. Boys can develop eating disorders as well.

While EDs are predominantly female, males can also develop EDs. However, it may be harder to spot in men simply because we don’t think of males as being susceptible to this particular illness. Trans individuals are also at risk, with a whopping 16% of transgender college students admitting to having some type of ED.

3. People can’t “decide” to have an eating disorder.

Yes, you can “choose” to restrict what you eat, but the psychological element of the eating disorder is not something that is chosen. Eating disorders are generally brought on by some disturbance in the mental being, whether it be trauma or something that may have happened in childhood/young adulthood. For many of these individuals, it’s an element of their life they feel they have control over (how much they eat, how much they weigh, how much they exercise, etc.) and it gives them a sense of relief.

4. People with eating disorders have a high likelihood of also having something else.

Generally, if someone has something like anorexia, it comes along with other mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, or obsessive compulsive disorder. Bulimia has high co-morbidity rates of mood disorders. There’s almost always more than just a “food battle” going on.

5. Commenting of their body is incredibly unhelpful.

You might be coming from a good place but the truth is, the transition to healthy is difficult and painful, as a lot of individuals, particularly those with anorexia, bulimia, or OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder) have their personality so tightly intertwined with their eating disorder that it is part of their identity. Saying “You look so much better!” or “You look so healthy now!” translates to “I look fat” or “I’ve gained too much.” Whereas telling them they were too skinny or too thin before fueled the ED. It’s better to not comment on their figure at all.

6. Not everyone with an eating disorder is extremely thin.

In fact, a lot of bulimic individuals appear to be at an average weight. This doesn’t mean that they are healthy or well though, and they need to be cared for as well.

7. Many individuals with EDs go to great lengths to hide it (and they are successful).

They won’t scream it on the rooftops telling everyone about how they hate their body and are dying to lose weight, and in fact, you’ll find that they avoid talking about it all together in most cases. They do this because when you have an eating disorder, you have absolutely no intention of stopping it. Getting better means “getting fat and giving up” and even though that may not be true, that’s how a lot of individuals perceive it.

8. Recovery takes time (and relapse is very likely).

Recovery for an ED individual is difficult and relapse happens often. A lot of these patients never quite fully recover ever. With the statistics being that 1/3 recover fully, 1/3 recover partially, and the other third die, it’s easy to see why Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate among other mental disorders.

Eating disorders are incredibly difficult to deal with, for both the individual as well as their loved ones. For more information and resources  on Eating disorders check out the links here and hereTC mark

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15 thoughts on “8 Crucial Things Most People Don’t Understand About Eating Disorders

  1. Thank you for this post I am sure many will benefit from this kind of education! I found this as I am in fact currently awaiting referral to an eating disorder clinic while my friends go off interrailing that I had to drop out of (yay!) If you could check out my new blog – only two posts so far – and give me any tips or advice or even just a like or share that would be so appreciated 🙂 many thanks xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have an eating disorder right now diagnosed as EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified). It’s nice to know that someone understands and is taking the time to educate people on it. Reality is, no matter how many people say I’m skinny, it doesn’t help.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a great list, and I have noticed the genetic link in my own family. I am uncertain of whether it is genetic in the hereditary sense though. Perhaps there is a predisposition but in many of the families I have seen the children have learned the behaviors of the disorder rather than inherently displaying systems without being exposed to those behaviors.

    Still, I would like to see some studies done on whether or not there is some sort of genetic component because of the observation of it “running” in families. If a genetic aspect can be found, it would be wonderful if we could epigenetically shift the gene off. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such as with many mental illnesses, genetics can play a big part in developing an illness. The illness may be present among relatives, but it is not until a certain stressor (or stressors) comes along that the illness will become ‘activated’. This is often the case, but there are always variations. I hope this is helpful!
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! This is certainly an important topic.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This is a really great post. I didn’t know anything about the genetic factors involved in eating disorders before reading this. It’s so important that everyone keeps talking about this things and spreading awareness. I never would have thought that saying somebody looks healthier would have a negative reaction, but I will keep it in mind now! xx

    Like

  5. Reblogged this on Mister Journalism: "Reading, Sharing, Discussing, Learning" and commented:
    8 Crucial Things Most People Don’t Understand About Eating Disorders
    by thecatalystsforchange
    By Melissa Rose on Thought Catalog

    “As of 2016, over 30 million people in the United States have a diagnosable eating disorder. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate among all mental disorders, killing one person just about every hour. Even though this is the case, many people have misconceptions about the disorder or don’t know about it at all. So here are eight things you didn’t know about eating disorders.”

    Read more of this post

    thecatalystsforchange | February 28, 2017 at 7:16 PM | Tags: anorexia , anxiety , binge eating , bulimia , depression , eating disorders , friendship , recovery , relapse , stress , support | Categories: Mental health , Repost|Share | URL: http://wp.me/p7jKej-GU

    Liked by 1 person

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