By On May 7th, 2018

How to spot an eating disorder in your son

Source: Tony Alter/Flickr

It should be no secret by now – both men and women of all ages can live with debilitating and potentially deadly eating disorders. The old myth that eating disorders are just a “girl problem” have been effectively proven false and experts believe at least a third of all people with eating disorders are men. However, that doesn’t mean all eating disorders are equal.

In fact, there are numerous differences in both how eating disorders present themselves in the different genders and how boys or men react to eating disorders. Most notably, boys often feel discouraged from talking about issues such as body image or mental health compared to girls.

This can come in the form of outright admonishment by parents or friends for opening up or more subtly in the form of societal pressure. Either way, the effect is the same. Boys, by and large, feel an intense stigma about openly talking about these issues or their own personal struggles.

Because of this stigma, boys and men also feel more isolated. This can be tied to a higher chance of developing an additional mental health problem such as depression or anxiety. Isolation can also increase the risk of suicide.

Boys and men with eating disorders also strive for different ideals of a perfect body. While women with eating disorders typically fetishize a thin body, men will idolize more muscular or perceivably “masculine” body.

This idealization of the muscular male form tends to contribute to extreme exercise or other methods to “bulk up” such as abusing supplements and protein shakes. Compulsive exercise is a common sign of eating disorders, but men are particularly likely to obsess with making sure they hit the gym to achieve their idea of a perfect body.

Thankfully, not everything is different when it comes to eating disorders in both men and women. If you notice your child is showing signs of extreme dieting, body image issues, or purging, there are a few immediate steps you can take to intervene:

If your child is living with an eating disorder, give Brookhaven a call at (888) 298-4673. We can answer any questions you have and help you find the best treatment option for your family.  

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