The Stigma Surrounding Eating Disorders - Brennan/ English - Assignment

1103 words - 5 pages

The Stigma
The stigma surrounding eating disorders is a very complex and dangerous thing. 
When people think of an eating disorder, they think of someone who is severely 
underweight and needs to be hospitalized; but that is not the case. 
In many cases, it is commonly viewed that an eating disorder is a choice and 
can easily be taken care of, when in reality it is a serious psychological disorder that 
can cause significant physical, mental, emotional, and social impairment. Anorexia 
Nervosa has the highest fatality rate of any psychiatric disorder. The overall mortality 
rate for an eating disorder is 20% and the risk of premature death for women with 
Anorexia Nervosa is up to twelve times higher than the general population. The stigma 
surrounding eating disorders is a significant barrier to seeking help. Right now, 
research shows that current access to treatment for eating disorders is alarmingly low, 
with only 22% of sufferers receiving specialist treatment for their eating disorder. 
Eating disorders are often sensationalized by the media as celebrity ‘diets’. The 
starting point to ending the stigma is to build community awareness of these illnesses. 
There must be a change in attitude before we can begin the process of eliminating this 
deadly stigma and its consequences. Someone with an eating disorder is unlikely to be 
seeking help, it is imperative that we build community and individual awareness of the 
warning signs and an understanding of just how important is is for the person to 
receive support and treatment. Acting on the warning signs can have a marked 
influence on the severity and duration of the illness. Everyday is a struggle and not 
everyday is the same as the last. When dealing with something as complex as this, not 
everyone is going to have the same struggle. Every disorder is different and so is 
everyone who is suffering from one. It is considered that if you are underweight and 
suffering from an eating disorder; you go to the hospital, but if you are not underweight 
and suffering from an eating disorder; you are a success story. I want to help people 
better understand these disorders and how different they can be from person to 
person. With the way eating disorders are being displayed in this world, it’s going to be 
hard to have people seek help when needed. 
Usually when people think of an eating disorder, they just think of anorexia. They 
use the term ‘anorexia’ as a descriptive word. Having anorexia is NOT a physical 
appearance, it is a mental illness. People don’t understand that these are deadly 
illnesses with one of the highest fatality rates. We are put into this box and left there, as 
if nothing will get better for us. There are days where you can be okay with eating, and 
then there are days where you can’t even look at food. This isn’t something that can 
just go away. Things can get better with time, recovery is possible. Of course, it won’t 
be easy to just start feeling acceptance ...

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