Eating disorders: Who do you think of? …Frail teenaged girls?
Fair enough… the majority of people with an eating disorder are young and female. BUT many men suffer too…
I personally happen to know more than ten men who have had or still do suffer from anorexia or bulimia. It’s likely that well over 5000 men in Wales are suffering today. Most researchers don’t even include men because they think it will schew the statistics!
Men tend to be older than women when they develop an eating disorder… and they are more likely to exercise obsessively. But doctors and health care professionals are less likely to diagnose them, which is worrying because… let’s face it… the statistics for the correct diagnosis of an e.d. in women are not very good 😦
Men find it hard to ask for help – this is because there are additional, particular barriers to overcome. For example, eating disorders are viewed as a female illness so men may feel emasculated and ashamed of confessing to a “girl’s illness”.
Also, men might worry that their hetro-sexuality will be compromised (that people will think they are gay). Actually, a high percentage of men with eating disorders are gay (up to 20% compared to 10% of the general population) – and eating disorders in men are often linked to sexual distress; but most are still straight.
Finally, if you are a man in Wales with an eating disorder and you want help – where do you go?
Pre-puberty, the same amount of boys suffer from eating disorders as girls.
Post-puberty, one in ten sufferers are male. (These statistics are primarily based on self-disclosure so the real number may be far higher).
Recent studies suggest up to 16% of people being treated for anorexia are men and the numbers may be even higher with bulimia
Eating disorders (particularly anorexia nervosa) have the highest fatality rate of any mental illness and men are far more likely to commit suicide than woman, so male sufferers are particularly at risk.
…If you are a man who has or does suffer from an eating disorder we would appreciate your comments. How can we support you? What do you need?
If you are a service provider running specialist therapy for male sufferers – please let us know!
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