Misconceptions About Eating Disorders

Misconceptions About Eating Disorders

By Dr. Teri McCann, PhD, CEDS

Starting treatment for an eating disorder takes courage. It is a life-saving decision that is often delayed due to fear of judgment from misconceptions.

Here are the most common misconceptions about eating disorders and the best ways to combat them.

  • Developing an eating disorder is a choice, and you can simply make a decision to “stop.” An eating disorder is not just an extreme diet—or one that can be switched off in a moment. Eating disorders are often preceded by a condition called disordered eating, which serves as a coping mechanism from trauma experienced in life.
  • Only people of a certain background or population are likely to suffer from eating disorders. This is simply not true. Women and men of all different ages, backgrounds and demographics can be subjected to trauma and life experiences that can lead to disordered eating.
  • You can cure an eating disorder by treating the symptoms or through symptom control. This is a potentially dangerous assumption that often leads to relapse. The only way to recover from an eating disorder is by addressing the root cause—often trauma or a horrific event. At Fairhaven Treatment Center, the best intervention is therapy that helps the client find a way to reclaim their joy in life.
  • All eating disorders are either anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Although these are the two most referenced eating disorders, binge eating disorder is actually the most common in America. As opposed to bulimia, which involves purging or using laxatives, and anorexia, which is characterized by self-starvation, binge eating disorder is often manifested by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food, then feeling a loss of control and shame and regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures to counter the binge eating.

When someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, it’s important to treat them with dignity and compassion, and not belittle their struggle based on a preconceived notion of what an eating disorder is or may appear to be.

If you’d like to talk to someone about an eating disorder, contact a specialist or a counselor at Fairhaven Treatment Center today.

Dr. Teri McCann, PhD, CEDS is the Founder and Executive Clinical Director of Fairhaven Treatment Center near Memphis, TN. Dr. McCann has over 30 years of experience in working with women and adolescents with symptoms of eating disorders of all kinds. Dr. McCann specializes in the treatment of eating disorders that are related to trauma and attachment disorder.

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