October 3, 2016 by Castlewood Treatment Center in Advocacy, Body Image, Eating Disorder Treatment There is no denying that bullying often has lasting effects on the people who have been bullied—and that in some cases, those effects may include the development of an eating disorder. According to some studies, as many as 90 percent of those who are in treatment for an eating disorder admit to being bullied at some point during the course of their life.
That’s an alarmingly high number, and shows why so many eating disorder recovery advocates are also strongly outspoken against bullying in all forms. Today we take up that charge. In this post we’ll share some facts about the link between bullying and eating disorders, all as part of our belief that educating even a single person about these issues can ultimately have a ripple effect that impacts countless lives for the better. In other words, we want to raise awareness—and to stop bullying-- #1LifeAtATime.
The Link Between Bullying and Eating Disorders
There are different reasons why an experience with bullying might lead some to the development of an eating disorder. It goes without saying that being bullied can be stressful, and can leave the individual feeling helpless and traumatized. Eating disorders often arise as a way to exert control, when other areas of life seem so uncontrollable; certainly, that can be the case among those who are bullied. In addition, some simply find solace in an eating disorder; they find comfort in the ritual.
Another key component to all of this is body image. A bully will often target the physicality of the person being bullied, which can lead that person to a distorted view of his or her own body. The link between body image pressures and the development of eating disorders is something we’ve blogged about frequently here at Castlewood.
What Can Be Done to Help Those Being Bullied?
There are a few different ways to be proactive on behalf of those who are on the receiving end of bullying. One of the most important things we can do—as parents, partners, or friends—is to be aware that bullying will often result in depression. Being alert to the initial signs of depression can help us to know when to intervene. Some of the most common signs of depression are changes in sleep patterns, decreased self-esteem, and sudden changes in eating habits or in weight. If you notice any of these side effects, encourage your loved one to seek counseling.
Remember that most people who are bullied are reluctant to talk about it. As such, we must be vigilant on their behalf—and we must adopt a zero-tolerance approach to bullying. If you know someone who is being bullied in school, for instance, it’s vital to take it to administrators and to try to put a stop to it as quickly as possible.
Something that we can all do is spread the word about the real dangers of bullying—how it can have consequences that are truly life-threatening. It’s not something to brush aside; it’s something that destroys lives. Sharing with others just how serious the link between bullying and eating disorders is can raise awareness, and create the kind of ripple effect we mentioned earlier—one in which advocacy spreads from one person to the next, changing individual minds and ultimately transforming the culture.
This is not to say that bullying is going to stop overnight—but it’s something we can all strive toward. Those of us in the eating disorder recovery community, in particular, have to stand together against those forms of prejudice and hate that lead so many to self-destructive patterns.
Make sure to check out our Bullying and Body Image Infographic and share it with your friends! Together we can stop bullying #1LifeAtATime.
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