Teens hide symptoms

*Editor’s note: Sources in this article requested to remain anonymous; therefore, the names in this article have been reduced to the sources’ initials.

Many men and women of all ages experience insecurity, judgement and the constant need to be a certain size or weight portrayed as “perfect” by society and social media every day of their lives. They skip meals or purge everything they ate for dinner that night. They cannot stand the thought of being over a certain weight or being bigger than a certain dress size. They have eating disorders.

“I couldn’t stand gaining weight … I won’t stop until I’m satisfied with my body,” B.W. said.

According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life due to exaggerated pictures of models with “perfect” body shapes and body proportions and/or social media. A problem many of these sufferers also face is the fact that most diagnosed cases of eating disorders are not likely to be reported.

“If I don’t eat I feel like I’m disappointing my parents, but they don’t ever notice when I skip meals,” K.G. said.

The reason or cause for many sufferers to have one or more of these disorders varies greatly depending on the person and his/her behaviors and daily activities. Some sufferers have medical problems while others have more emotional reasons that cause their disorders. Another study done by NEDA revealed that 82 percent of respondents believe eating disorders are a physical or mental illness and should be treated as such.

“I had a thyroid problem, and I couldn’t lose weight naturally. It made me more depressed and anxious, and I began to push my family and friends away,” K.B. said.

For most people, having an eating disorder isn’t easy. For many sufferers, telling a loved one or family member can be hard to do. They fear that whoever they tell will immediately judge them and think they are not normal. Although they may not want to tell anyone, having support from a family member can help a lot. In many cases, family and friends have contributed tremendously to recovering from an eating disorder.

“In my opinion, parents and family need to be involved to overcome that disorder,” freshman counselor Dale Harris said.

Although recovery seems difficult, it is possible. With the right help and support, anyone suffering from an eating disorder can overcome it and fully recover.