The Los Angeles Times, my usually wonderful local paper, is running an article about eating disorders that, in my perspective, conveys false hope based on an incorrect interpretation of statistics.
Shari Roan's article, "Experts see hopeful signs on eating disorders," has a tagline:
Patients are being treated earlier, spending less time in the hospital and recovering faster, many healthcare experts say.
This statement is interpreted to mean that eating disorders are on the decline.
It's my opinion that eating disorders are on the increase. People who cannot find help or who do not seek help fall off the grid and are not counted. Financial obstacles to getting residential treatment are profound. Insurance companies are slow to cover such treatment.
My private psychotherapy practice specializes in eating disorder treatment for adult women. I receive heartbreaking calls and e-mails from people who cannot find the help they need.
Women call about their eating disorders. Parents call about their children. Husbands and boyfriends call about the women they love.
Young people who do not recover grow up to be adults with eating disorders. Adults have more power and resources to use to disguise their condition.
My concern is that articles like this may encourage the public to relax on eating disorder issues. Statistics provide useful information when the numbers reflect reality.
Too many people suffering from eating disorders are not being counted. And these are often wonderful people who do count in every sense of the word.
The last bit of this article includes the comments from: Dr. Ovidio Bermudez, medical director of the Eating Recovery Center in Denver, a clinician I greatly respect. He said there is no evidence that the incidence of eating disorders has dropped. He added that, to the contrary, anorexia and bulimia have been spreading among populations other than white teenage girls.
My private practice of almost thirty years has specialized in working with adult women who want recovery from their eating disorders. I have long been aware that eating disorders affect more than teen-agers. Thankfully, adult women are now seeking help. We have no idea how many women have been suffering with an eating disorder that has lasted decades. I'm just grateful they are now feeling empowered to reach for the help they want and need.
I hope articles like this one do not present another obstacle to seeking recovery. What do you think? Would this article stop you from seeking help because of shame or embarrassment?