Bullying is, unfortunately, not an unusual childhood experience.
Ranging from harassment to outright assault and abuse at its worst, bullying is an experience most of us experience as either the victim or the aggressor in our younger years, even if we didn’t fully recognize it. There’s adults that can still recall, quite vividly, multiple bullying encounters from their childhoods, due to how impactful they were.
This is because bullying leaves individuals with enduring psychological consequences that, oftentimes, play a role in the development of mental health conditions as other disorders later in the individual’s adult life.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at how someone who suffers from an eating disorder can be affected by bullying; the disorders most commonly influenced by bullying and the different ways in which it can trigger their condition.
The impact of bullying
Bullying can occur anywhere from toddler age all the way through high school, but it has been noted to be most common in middle school and early high school.
Some people used to say that bullying enabled character building or was an opportunity to toughen up. In recent decades, bullying has changed in a lot of ways, and so has how people view it.
The internet brought about infinite changes to society, both positive and negative. One of the negative impacts of the internet is the ability to torment peers on a whole other level, through social media platforms and other ways.
The dehumanization of “interacting” with other people through a screen (and oftentimes simply through comments and messages) further disconnects people from each other, which caused bullying to not only become more cruel, but more frequent.
The effects of bullying are many and can be severe; one of the reasons bullying has become more mainstreamed is due to the fact more and more children are committing suicide due to bullying. Some of the other effects of bullying include, but are not limited to, mental health disorders, behavioral disorders, addictions, eating disorders and self-harming behaviors.
Bullying and eating disorders
One of the most common forms of bullying remains that of harassing someone’s physical appearance.
When someone is bullied or teased about their body, especially if frequently, the common result is developing a negative, even hateful, body image. If the individual is already struggling with low-self esteem, anxiety or depression, they are at an increased risk of developing an eating disorder in response to being bullied.
While any eating disorder can stem from or be affected by bullying, anorexia was recognized to be the one most often triggered.
In a situation where someone is bullied for something they cannot control (such as race, birth marks, visible genetic or ethnic characteristics), anorexia may develop as a manifestation of their attempt to make up for the lack of control they feel.
Signs and symptoms to look out for
Some signs of bullying include:
- Unexplainable injuries
- Recurring nightmares
- Declining grades
- Struggling to focus in school
- Drastic changes in eating patterns
- Missing or destroyed personal property
- Disinterest or avoidance of social situations
Some signs of eating disorders include:
- Noticeable weight changes, up or down
- Difficulties concentrating or communicating
- Appears uncomfortable eating around others (if they do)
- Vocal or visible concern with body size and shape
- Extreme mood swings or changes in behavior
- Dry skin, hair, and brittle nails
- Yellowed or pale skin
- Dressing in layers to hide weight loss or keep warm due to lack of body fat
Recognizing the presence of an eating disorder in you or a family or friend can be scary and overwhelming, but it’s not something you have to face alone. We’re here to help.
Contact us for personal support
If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, reach out to us.
Here at Seeds of Hope, we provide outpatient programs to individuals struggling with all types of eating disorders, including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge-Eating Disorder, Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED).
We offer programs for teenagers and adults, and we’re happy to help you find the right treatment solution for you or someone you love if you aren’t exactly sure what their needs may be.