A study by Bodywhys, the Eating Disorders Association of Ireland, found stigma acts as a significant barrier to sufferers getting treatment and support.
Participants taking part in the study said the impact of negative stereotypes left them feeling lonely and isolated.
They also felt under pressure to manage their eating disorder alone.
The study was based on an analysis of transcripts from Bodywhys Connect online support sessions held between July 2012 and January 2013.
In particular, participants felt there was a widespread belief that eating disorders were somehow self-inflicted — a stereotype they strongly resisted.
They also felt under pressure because of a lack of knowledge about the recovery process; that it was not a quick, straight-forward process.
Bodywhys chief executive, Jacinta Hastings, said many factors combined to make any one person more vulnerable to an eating disorder and these varied from person to person.
The study – Living With an Eating Disorder: The Impact of Stigma on Help-Seeking and Support Experiences has been launched during Eating disorders Awareness Week.
Bodywhys helpline no: 1890-200444.