As you think about seeking help from a professional for disordered eating, you may feel anxious about what the physician, dietitian, or counselor will say to you, and what their reaction will be. Here are some common concerns you may have, and information for you to consider.
- "I'm not thin enough. He/She won't believe me."
Weight has very little to do with determining if someone has an Eating Disorder. It also does not indicate the degree of medical danger the person is in. Remember: 70% of individuals with eating disorders are of average or above-average weight.
- "I'm not sick enough. He/She won't think I need help."
Health care professionals are there to help patients—ALL of their patients, regardless of how well or ill they are.
- "The doctor/therapist won't take this seriously, no one else does."
Everyone should take Eating Disorders seriously. Of all psychological illnesses, Eating Disorders pose the greatest risk of death. They are not "diets out of control", but complex emotional and psychological illnesses where sufferers use the behaviors as a way to cope with emotional issues and low self-esteem. If the professional you see doesn’t take it seriously, ask to see someone new.
- "He/She will tell my parents." "People will find out."
Medical professionals and counselors are bound by confidentiality laws and ethical codes to preserve confidentiality and protect the well-being of the patient. There may be cases where they need to protect a patient's well-being- for example, a minor (under 18 years of age) that is in immediate physical danger, or danger of suicide. Medical professionals discuss with ALL patients their rights and limits to confidentiality. All patients have that right and deserve that respect.
- "He/She will just see me as fat, they won't believe it's an Eating Disorder." (Compulsive Overeating)
There is clearly a difference between someone who is overweight and someone who suffers from an Eating Disorder. Remember: weight has very little to do with determining if a person has an Eating Disorder. It is the behaviors, self-esteem, psychological and physical health issues that determine if someone has an Eating Disorder.
- "The doctor is just going to make me gain/lose weight!" or "My doctor/therapist will tell me to 'just eat' but it's so much more than that!"
The goal of the medical professional, dietitian or counselor is to help you cope with your feelings and experiences differently, while developing healthier approaches to eating, exercise, and body image.
- "I'm a man and I know they'll think I'm a freak, or they won't believe me." Increasingly men are coming forward and admitting their struggles with Eating Disorders. Where it was once thought to be a "woman's illness" we now know that just isn't true. Men face many of the same underlying issues in their struggles with Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating, even though, in some cases, men have their own set of specific issues.