Male anorexia has received less attention in our culture than anorexia in females. It may be that anorexia in men is discussed less because it isn’t as prevalent. Regardless of the cause, the struggles anorexic men face should be identified and shared so that those living with the condition can find optimal treatment options sooner.
Why Do Men Develop Anorexia?
There are a number of anorexia risk factors that impact men. The portrayal of male body image in the media certainly plays a role in influencing the way young men view masculinity and the development of the ideal image. This influence of media is particularly significant and can cause anorexia in male athletes who strive to reach an impossible standard and become ill in the process. Men who develop anorexia experience shame about their physical appearance and become hyper self-critical of perceived flaws in weight and size. As a result of their focus on these perceived flaws, men with anorexia often resort to drastic measures to reduce caloric intake in an effort to lose weight or build muscle mass.
Symptoms of Anorexia in Men
While individuals will display unique signs and presentations of anorexia, there are some common symptoms that many with the disorder experience.
Male anorexia signs may include:
- Making excuses about why he doesn’t eat around others (“I already ate” or “I’m not hungry”)
- Excessive exercise
- Hair loss
- Severely restrictive eating patterns
Less visible male anorexia symptoms can include malnutrition, heart problems, and heavy laxative use, along with other methods of ridding calories. Sometimes people with anorexia become avoidant of friends and family due to fatigue and the fear of being discovered.
Effects of Anorexia
There are many inherent dangers of anorexia. Medical consequences of anorexia include:
- Cardiovascular problems
- Digestive complications
- Dental problems
- Fluctuations in hormone levels that influence multiple bodily systems
- Muscle loss
The long-term effects of anorexia can be devastating and may even result in premature death. People with anorexia often try to hide the condition, which often results in social isolation to avoid exposure.
Statistics on Male Anorexia
We tend to hear more about young women with anorexia and other eating disorders, but how many men have anorexia? Statistics on eating disorders in men tell us that 1 in 3 people with eating disorders are male. Studies show that 10 million males will experience issues with an eating disorder over the course of their lives.
Help for Men
Anorexia treatment and other eating disorder treatments for men can offer life-saving interventions. Exploring possible co-occurring conditions such as depression or anxiety can be a worthwhile journey toward combating this disorder and may help with some of the underlying challenges with self-esteem. Professional counseling is highly recommended for eating disorder treatment.
The use of cognitive-behavioral therapy is a standard practice in treating eating disorders and can help identify thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that contribute to the issue. Temporary residential treatment options and hospital stays can be stabilizing interventions that improve health outcomes. There are online support options including The National Association for Males with Eating Disorders available as well as teletherapy options.