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Men With Eating Disorders

Male Eating Disorders: The Challenges

Diagnosing eating disorders in men can be complicated. Some men are reluctant to seek medical help for disorders that are still primarily considered "women's disorders." Many men simply are ashamed to have an illness of this type, so they suffer in silence.
Another problem for men is that a great number of doctors and healthcare professionals are not trained to identify or treat eating disorders in men, especially anorexia. Families, too, often fail to see the symptoms. The illnesses then can progress to a more advanced stage, where they are harder to treat.
During recovery, males with eating disorders sometimes are unwilling to participate in support-group sessions because the groups are mostly female.
Unlike many women, who develop eating disorders because they "feel fat," men often are medically obese at some point in the illness and feel pressure to be thin. Sometimes, athletic activities induce this struggle to be lean, prompting not only the eating disorder but also compulsive exercising. Men also may adopt certain behaviors when teased or criticized about being fat at critical development stages, such as puberty.

Treatment for Men With Eating Disorders

Treatment for eating disorders can be effective. It can involve either inpatient or outpatient hospital treatment, depending on the severity of the illness. Conditions such as anemia or depression are also treated, and men gradually relearn proper eating habits. Treatment also usually includes psychotherapy, which helps men understand why they have the illness. Medications may also be used.
Men with eating disorders often undergo nutritional rehabilitation, which allows them to regain a desirable body weight. Treatment is followed by weeks, months, or even years of follow-up care to ensure complete recovery.
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