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Men and Eating Disorders

Corey Cashen, a former extern with our cooperative from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, researched the following information.

Many people are still under the assumption that eating disorders affect only women. In fact, research indicates that eating disorders can affect people of all ethnicities, races, socioeconomic statuses, sexual orientations, and genders. It is estimated that one million men in America currently suffer from an eating disorder. Another common myth is that men suffer only from compulsive overeating. In actuality, there are documented cases of men suffering from anorexia nervosa dating back as far as the 1600s. It is now estimated that one in ten adults suffering from eating disorders and 20-30% of younger anorexics are males. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) asserts, "There are probably as many bulimic men as there are anorexic women."

Despite different societal expectations for men and women, the underlying conflicts associated with eating disorders are often very similar. Like women, men with eating disorders struggle with difficulty expressing emotions, anxiety, depression, control issues, and shame. In recent decades, dieting has become more acceptable in men, and pressure from the media for men to attain the “ideal” body has increased as well. While males of all sexual orientations can develop eating disorders, gay men appear to be at an increased risk.

Greater awareness has resulted in a recent increase of identified eating disorders in males. Unfortunately, it remains difficult for these men to seek treatment once an eating disorder is identified. A common reason is that there are relatively few inpatient treatment programs available, the majority of which do not treat males. It is also common for males to avoid treatment because their disordered eating behaviors serve certain athletic goals, such as maintaining a weight class in wrestling. Social stereotypes of masculinity may also deter men from seeking therapy; it may not feel acceptable to ask for help.

At the Lakeview Center for psychotherapy we have special expertise in the treatment of men with eating disorders. For more information, or to set up an initial appointment, call us at 772-525-3322.




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