Eating Disorders Among LGBT Individuals

Eating Disorders Among LGBT IndividualsEating disorders affect individuals from all walks of life: all races and ethnicities, genders, ages, and socio-economic groups, but there are certain groups and demographics that are more susceptible to eating disorders and disordered behavior due to the different challenges, environments, and lifestyles they experience than other individuals and groups.

Why LGBT Individuals are Predisposed to Eating Disorders

While research on this topic has only just begun, there is a great deal of evidence showing that eating disorder rates among the LGBT population are relatively high, and typically outrank eating disorder rates among the heterosexual population. LGBT individuals are exposed to several stressors and risk-factors for developing eating disorders including:

  • Stress, pressure, and fear of “coming out” to family, friends, peers, and society in general
  • Fear of rejection or having an intense need to “fit in”
  • Internal battles with gender-identity, sexual orientation, and confusion about self-identity in general. Low self-esteem, self-hatred, guilt, and shame often result in individuals with identity issues.
  • Experiencing discrimination, hatred, bullying, and abuse from others.
  • Suffering from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other issues that often affect individuals with complex sexual identity issues
  • Lacking supportive resources from individuals, family, groups, and organizations who oppose homosexuality and other non-mainstream sexual preferences and orientations
  • Experiencing pressure to meet the cultural standards of the LGBT community. Wanting to be socially accepted so much that one strives to fit a certain body image and possess distinct traits of the stereotypical LGBT individual.

LGBT Issues Can Trigger Eating Disorders and Addictive Behaviors

It is common for LGBT individuals to experience negative reactions to their sexual identity or orientation at some time in their lives. These issues can have a direct effect on how the individual feels about themselves which can impact poor and even distorted body image. Negative emotions and experiences related to one’s sexual identity can also cause individuals to feel bad about themselves and this trait they cannot control. As a result, these individuals may desire to regain this control by changing things they can control. If an LGBT individual feels ashamed of his sexual identity or orientation, he may translate these feelings of inadequacy and insecurity into creating a body or physical appearance that is “accepted” by others. In addition, victimization and isolation can also cause LGBT individuals to develop eating disorders and other addictive behaviors or substances in order to cope or self-medicate.

Eating Disorder Treatment and Recovery Options for LGBT Individuals

If you are looking for treatment and recovery options for you or a loved one’s eating disorder, you may call our toll-free helpline for assistance. We are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help find and connect you with the programs and services that are right for you and your unique recovery needs. We are dedicated to helping people find individualized treatment and recovery services, to inhibit long-term recovery success instead of a temporary “fix”. We have connections to the top-rated treatment centers, including those that specialize in LGBT individuals, since individuals in this community struggle with similar issues that influence eating disorders and other addictive behaviors. To learn more about your options for treatment and recovery, call our toll-free number and speak with a recovery professional today; we’re here to help, however we can.