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  • Jan Taylor Schultz

Men and Eating Disorders

I am writing about a group that often is overlooked in terms of having eating disorders… Men! Out of those brave men who have been willing to step forward and be part of a questionnaire or research, statistics tell us that 10% of all people who have eating disorders are male. However, as I mentioned, 10% only shows us those who were willing to disclose themselves. My guess is that about 20% of all people who have eating disorders might be males. Over the past 20 years I have seen male students from Indiana University, male professionals in the community, as well as adolescents and even those under the age of 10.

I have an immense amount of empathy for men who have eating disorders because eating disorders primarily are considered, a “woman's disorder” --therefore men are often overlooked. Only more recently have eating disorder treatment centers been adding men to their treatment groups, and thankfully there are a few centers that have units specifically designed for males. Male clients have told me they have been ashamed or embarrassed to come to treatment, because they feel they should not “have” the disorder since they are not women. In fact, in many cases they feel that they don’t have an eating disorder, because they don’t seem “severe enough”.

My male clients have found it difficult to find support. They often feel they cannot talk to others about their issues or problems because they feel they are not “meant” to have an eating disorder. In many cases, some of the men I've had in treatment had not sought therapy for years, and then finally considered seeking treatment when they realized it was taking over their life. Men need treatment just as women do. Even though men and women are very different, men and women with eating disorders share quite a bit of the same thinking about food, weight, and eating, so the treatment process is similar.

I would encourage anyone who knows a male friend who is concerned or somewhat overly worried about food, weight and eating, to ask them about it. There is a lot of information online about males and eating disorders, and most therapists who treat eating disorders see men. If you are a man and are reading this blog, I would encourage you to make the first call to getting treatment—you deserve to be in treatment like anyone else who has an eating or mental health issue. Help could be on the way- it is time to get your life back☺

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