Anorexia (also known as anorexia nervosa) is a serious disorder where individuals have a distorted body image and are obsessed with preventing weight gain. Having a close friend or family member who suffers from this illness, it can be hard to understand what exactly they are going through, but it is incredibly important to be supportive — no matter what.
Here are some myths about those who suffer from anorexia.
1. Being thin means you automatically have anorexia
There are many reasons why a person can be thin, and it is important not to make assumptions that they are suffering from anorexia. There are a myriad of different reasons that someone is underweight, from suffering from cancer to going through depression.
2. Anorexia is something that an individual will grow out of
Anorexia is not just a phase that an individual is going through and eventually will snap out of. This disorder can be an ongoing problem for the majority of someone’s life if they are not treated properly.
3. Only girls suffer from anorexia
The percentage is lower, but men can suffer from this disorder as well. The biggest issue is that, since anorexia is often perceived as a “women’s disease,” men are less likely to seek medical attention.
4. Being thin is the only goal of an anorexic
The end goal of an individual who suffers from anorexia is not to be thin, but more about the feeling of being in control. Being thin is just one of the ways that a person can convince themselves that they are in control of their lives. This need for control can stretch into other areas of their lives, including their work and social interactions.
5. Food is the main obsession of an anorexic
Food is only one of the things that continuously occupies an anorexic’s mind. They are also focused on control, weight gain, and other aspects of their life that, to them, might be spinning out of control.
6. A person can either be anorexic or bulimic
An anorexic can also go through phases where they purge their food as well by taking laxatives or self-inducing vomiting. They may go a few days eating a small amount of food and then purge and then restrict themselves to a severely limited calorie intake.
7. Anorexics are never hungry or do not like food
People suffering from anorexia are in fact always hungry and still have cravings for certain types of food, but due to their need for control they cannot give in to their hunger pangs. When anorexics claim that they are not hungry or that they just ate a big meal, it is just a coping mechanism for the disorder.
8. Anorexia is only for young people
It is a common belief that anorexia is a disease that only affects young individuals, but this is simply not true. Adults in their thirties and older have been known to suffer from this disorder in increasing numbers. Some have had anorexia when they were younger, while others are having it for the first time.
9. You cannot die from anorexia if you exercise enough to keep your heart strong
Anorexia is a serious illness that can be fatal if the individual does not seek proper treatment in time. No amount of exercise can substitute for the essential nutrients that a person is lacking when their calorie intake is so minimal.
10. Anorexics literally see a fat person when they look in the mirror
Distorted body image is one of the symptoms of anorexia, but that does not mean the sufferers see their body as fat when they look into the mirror. They can see that their bones are sticking out, but they will also hyper focus on a part of their body that has a bit of flesh. That spot is seen as a place where they need to lose weight.
11. Dieting can lead to anorexia
Regular dieting does not automatically lead to anorexia, but for those who are prone to the disorder, a strict diet can easily spiral out of control.
12. Anorexia is just a cry for attention
Anorexia should not be taken lightly and is a serious life-threatening illness. If someone you love is suffering from this disorder, it is important to give them as much support and compassion as possible.
13. Anorexia is strictly caused by environmental influences
This disorder is not only caused by environmental factors like media and popular culture, but also by biological and psychological issues. Some individuals may be more wired to perfectionism, but the specifics are still unclear.
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