Depiction Suggestions

The following points for consideration regarding the portrayal and health consequences of eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder) along with disordered eating were developed as a resource for entertainment development and production. They are not meant to limit the creative process:

– Keep in mind that disordered eating can manifest in many forms. Although an individual may not satisfy the DSM-IV criteria for eating disorders, they may still exhibit disordered eating practices.

– Remember that recovery from an eating disorder can take many years and numerous treatment attempts. Some individuals recover. For others individuals, it can be a lifelong struggle. Relapse is not uncommon in individuals with anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.

– If possible, make an effort to show the negative medical consequences of eating disorders including heart problems, kidney problems, gastrointestinal problems, tooth decay, hair loss, brittle nails, and other problems.

– Remember that eating disorders are not bound to young girls. Although the percentage of eating disorder cases is highest in adolescent girls, eating disorders affect people of all ages, cultures, socioeconomic level, and genders.

– Promote the re-establishment of a healthy relationship with food.

– When possible, make an effort to portray eating disorders as complex illnesses. Eating disorders are the result of multiple factors including genetics, familial dynamics and socio-cultural pressures.

– Attempt to address the mental health situation of characters with eating disorders. Eating disorders often co-occur with anxiety disorders, depression, bi-polar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, trauma, and drugs and alcohol.

– Bear in mind that genetics play a role in the development of eating disorders. One may be genetically predisposed to an eating disorder, especially if a fellow family member had a disorder.

– Remember that treatment for eating disorders is unique for each individual. Treatment is aimed at achieving normal weight and addressing psychological struggles. Treatment could include individual and group therapy, nutritional counseling, and medication. Treatment can also include various levels of care such as intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization, residential treatment, and inpatient eating disorders programs.

– If possible, address the concerns of fellow characters and their relationships to the person with disordered eating.

– Please remember that there are no standard presentations of eating disorders.

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