Support for young men with eating disorders
Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can affect young people, children and adults of all ages, genders and ethnicities. They most commonly develop in adolescence but can also occur in children as young as 6 or 7, and in older adults. They are much more common among women and girls, but it is thought that up to 25% of sufferers are male. Eating disorders can also affect transgender people.
If you are worried you may have an eating disorder you are not alone – recent research suggests around 725,000 people in the UK have an eating disorder, and it is thought that 60% of these first developed under the age of 16 (Beat, 2015).
Eating disorders claim more lives than any other mental illness and should always be taken very seriously, however they are treatable conditions, the sooner someone gets the support and treatment they need the more likely they are to make a full recovery. Eating disorders include Anorexia (or Anorexia Nervosa), Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder, EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) and food phobia.
An eating disorder is an illness not a diet. Many of us struggle with eating – the ‘right’ amount or the ‘right’ things – and feel under pressure to lose weight and conform to society’s ‘ideal body’, believing this will make us happier and more successful. While eating disorders can begin as a diet, they are not the same thing – when people have an eating disorder this begins to dominate their whole life, and impacts on their school/ work/ social and family life. Often people who develop an eating problem are struggling with difficult feelings or stressful events in their lives and the eating disorder can begin as a way of coping with these or regaining a sense of control.
When someone has an eating disorder thoughts about food, calories and body weight can take over, and are often accompanied by feelings of fear, anxiety, guilt and shame. People can start to become isolated from friends and stop enjoying things they used to do, they might avoid eating in front of people or become panicky around food, and they may make themselves sick or want to exercise immediately after eating. People with an eating disorder may also experience low self-esteem and self- worth, negative thoughts, low mood, self -harm and difficulty coping with life.