In many ways, eating behavioral concerns such as anorexia and bulimia are treated as issues that affect females. Many clinics and programs are marketed specifically towards women, and even some diagnostic criteria involves female physiology without providing any equivalency for males. But as awareness about eating issues becomes greater and National Eating Disorder Awareness Week takes place, a greater attention to the difficulties faced specifically by men is emerging among professionals and clients alike.
Men often must confront particular issues when suffering from the mental, emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms of eating concerns, including a higher prevalence of nutritional supplement abuse and increased stigmas surrounding the acknowledgment of the concern and the seeking of treatment. As men are typically expected to have a muscular, toned form, suggest some experts, taking muscle-building pills and other substances aimed at helping men obtain a certain look can be a tempting and compulsive habit. Some industry professionals note that because men with eating concerns may not present an especially thin look as is the case with many females, diagnosis can be difficult.
The social pressures men experience surrounding body image and mental health can make reaching out to a counselor or therapist extraordinarily difficult. On average, men approach therapy and related services on a much less frequent basis than their female counterparts, and this difference may be especially pronounced in the case of eating concerns. These challenges in their sum, say experts, lead to a need for providing better education and outreach programs for men, along with helping communities understand that not only women are affected by eating issues. Through a greater acceptance of the ways in which eating concerns can manifest, professionals and community leaders can help prevent a great deal of the strife associated with starving oneself, purging, and engaging in other unhealthy behaviors.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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