When you think of someone with anorexia, do you picture a teenage girl? Well, guys with anorexia are becoming more common.
Take the case of TJ Warschefsky. When he died at age 22, weighing only 78 lbs. His heart gave out in the middle of his nightly workout routine of a-thousand sit-ups.
The National Eating Disorders Association estimates that a million males in the US are battling anorexia or bulimia. But that number may be a lot higher, because boys and men don't come forward and get treatment because it's thought of as a girls' disease. So guys end up getting even sicker than females do, because they're too ashamed to get help. They lose weight for a longer period of time - and that allows the psychological damage to take a stronger hold on their thinking and behaviors.
But in reality, anorexia doesn't discriminate - and it has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Dr. James Hudson is a Harvard psychiatry professor who's been studying eating disorders for over 25 years - and he says 1 in 4 people suffering from anorexia are male. And when they do look for help, almost everything they find is geared toward women. That makes male anorexics feel even more isolated and damages their self-image as a man even more.
But the factors that feed into anorexia are the same for both genders. Most people with eating disorders are perfectionists - straight A students - great athletes - who push themselves constantly. And, as with any other disease, early detection is key. Because the longer someone lives with the disease, the more likely they are to die from it.
If you, or a loved one, are struggling with an eating disorder, go here: NationalEatingDisorders.org. And for guys in particular, go here: NamedInc.org. That stands for National Association for Males with Eating Disorders.