Men with Eating Disorder Concerns Receiving Greater Acknowledgment

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.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Steve

    Steve

    February 22nd, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    I guess I have not ever really given much thought to the fact that a man could have an eating disorder. That is not something you hear about everyday. Everything that I have ever seen or heard about eating disorders mainly revolves around females and especially ways to keep young women from developing these habits. You don’t think that things could affect young men like that but I guess they do, and that’s where it becomes all about control. Maybe for them it is not so much about having that skewed self image that we always think about when you consider women with anorexia or something like that but for men maybe it gives them a sense of having control over something in their lives when they do not feel it elsewhere. Thanks for raising such a critical issue that does not seem to have much prevalence in the general population in that people are not talking about it, but maybe this will get people talking and recognizing the danger that is possible here too.

  • sandra

    sandra

    February 23rd, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    the outstinock requirements and everything related to the entire act of eating and other related things are different in men and women and it is only imperative that stress be laid on both and not just women when it comes to treatment of eating disorders.

  • Jerry

    Jerry

    February 24th, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    You don’t know what kind of stigma there is attached to being a man with anorexia. People have made me feel so shallow and vain in the past- my therapy has let me see that this is not what it is all about. But you don’t know how many people made me feel bad about being afflicted with this, like I could just turn it off in an instant if I wanted to. Anorexia is not like that. I am glad that eating disorders and men are finally being recognized because it is more of a problem than many realize.

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