Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. “The most dangerous myth about eating disorders is that they’re a fad, or that someone is choosing to have one because they want to look a certain way,” says psychologist Gia Marson, who adds, “That would be dieting.”
Because an eating disorder often begins with a diet, and because most people have some familiarity with dieting, people think they understand eating disorders, Marson says. They assume a person with an eating disorder can turn it off like a light switch. Except, of course, eating disorders are mental illnesses. Diets are not.
Dr. Marson has spent her career helping people recover from eating disorders. She established the UCLA Counseling Center’s Eating Disorders Program more than a decade ago, and she continues to untangle misconceptions around eating disorders, what it means to have a healthy body image—even if you still sometimes wish your body looked different—and the complexity of talking to a loved one you suspect might need help. Click here to read more.