Anorexia Nervosa is a life-threatening eating disorder, less common than its counterparts (bulimia and binge eating) and has been observed to have one of the highest mortality rates in the world.
Even with this prognosis, there are still lots of misconceptions surrounding anorexia nervosa. It has led to people not getting the correct information needed for its treatment.
Anorexia nervosa has been characterised as an eating disorder that not only affects females but also their male counterparts. Recently, it is now common among teenagers and young adults, and this is due to the effect of social media.
Social media hides real and genuine information about an individual, and this can change the mindset of many young people, which affects their orientation and view of life generally.
There are a number of misconceptions hovering around anorexia nervosa, which reduces the chances of getting fully treated for it.
Misconception 1: It affects only the underweight
The body makeup of an individual tells a lot about how people view them. It is a general misconception that those with smaller and slimmer body build are often categorised as suffering or likely suffering from an eating disorder. Although anorexia is particularly associated with the fear of food and weight gain, and the inability to maintain average weight, it is not new when they come down with severe weight loss.
There is actually no specific weight value for people suffering from anorexia even though a majority of patients are seen to be underweight, it is a mental health disorder and can likely affect those of normal weight as well.
Misconception 2: It affects only women
Inasmuch as this disorder started in females, it can affect anybody regardless of gender. With the recent changes in the social media world, fashion adverts and generally pop culture, celebrating male models with chiselled bodies have increased the way men see themselves, as they are being compelled to compare themselves.
Misconception 3: It only calls for attention seeking
Many societies see being slim and underweight as an attractive feature in both genders, especially females. This compels individuals to believe that the best way to be physically attractive is to gain a slim physique. A true fact is that people with anorexia do not resist food intake all because they want attention; it is a mental illness that they battle with which has severe consequences.
Misconception 4: It is just a childhood phase
A huge misconception that exists around anorexia is that it starts during childhood when children become selective with their meals and are picky eaters. Instead, it is a severe psychiatric condition that requires medical treatment so as to prevent it from escalating and becoming untreatable. If not taken into consideration, it can go on till older adulthood, and because it is linked to poor coping strategies, it will become hard for an individual to drop it.
Misconception 5: It is an obsession with being thin
The majority of the time, people do not choose anorexia, they might not exactly desire to be slim and underweight. With social media, there seems to be an obsession with anorexia and being thin as individuals have role models among celebrities and fashion models. This comes about because it is a criterion in these organisations to attain a particular weight range while eating less. With this, a lot of young individuals look up to them and strive to be like them.
Due to recent research, various treatment measures are available, especially therapy, which can be family-based, behavioural and nutritional. Knowing the truth about anorexia nervosa can save lives as the people around those suffering from this disorder do not exactly know the severity of it. The earlier the treatment, the greater the chances of full recovery. Anorexia nervosa is merely a condition that requires support and care and not just a choice.