Anorexia is an often misunderstood illness. When a lot of people think of anorexia, they imagine image-obsessed teenagers. This is far from the reality. There are actually thousands of men in the U.S. who suffer from the disease.
Understanding Anorexia in Men
Anorexia has little to do with food, as odd as it may sound. When it occurs in men, the most common denominator in cases is a prevailing lack of self-esteem. The eating disorder anorexia often results as an attempt at control. Because a man may have socially conditioned pride, the shame he feels at suffering from anorexia may be magnified.
Male Athletes and Anorexia
Male athletes who participate in sports that center around low-weighted participants are more likely to suffer from anorexia. The high pressure to be thin and look a certain way can trigger the disease. The positive feedback one initially receives, perhaps even from coaches, only serves to encourage this.
Symptoms of Anorexia in Men
Look for signs of rapid weight loss. Discuss the situation directly if you notice it, being certain not to encourage or praise the behavior.
Men may be more likely to suffer in silence. There are far fewer support groups specifically focused on men in recovery from anorexia, as the majority of sufferers from this disease are women. The lack of plentiful resources can bring even more shame to the disease, discouraging men from getting the help that they need.
If a man in your life may have anorexia, try speaking to him about the symptoms. You never want to accuse someone of an eating disorder, but having someone to talk to can be the first step a man needs to take to getting help.