When you think of someone fighting anorexia or bulimia, what usually comes to mind is a teenage girl looking at fashion magazines and wishing that she looked just like the models within the magazine’s pages. The truth is that adult eating disorders are much more prevalent than most people think.
Unfortunately, because people have such a stereotype of what a person with an eating disorder should look like, other people who are deeply suffering take the hit because no one takes them seriously. People can develop eating disorder later in life, no matter what kind of situation they are in or how old they are. It is important to know how to recognize the signs in yourself or a loved one so that you can stop the issue in its tracks before it gets out of hand.
It is true that many young people, especially women, suffer from eating disorders. However, it is estimated that about ⅓ of inpatient admissions for eating disorders were over the age of 30. If you think about it, how many people do you know at this point who are on some kind of diet and constantly complain about their figure, even when they have no need to. This alone is a precursor to an eating disorder, which can lead to severe symptoms and significant life changes.
Body image has a lot to do with adult eating disorders. As people age, both men and women experience a slowing down metabolism and more lethargy. Both things can cause you to gain weight. Couple that with the stressors from everyday life, like kids, marriage, work, and financial issues. This can lead to anxiety and depression, which are both closely associated with eating disorders. Many of these people have body image dissatisfaction, especially when they compare themselves to what they looked like when they were younger, or what young people around them look like.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 60% of adult women engage in some type of weight control, 40% restrain what they eat, 40% overeat, and 90% worry about their weight. These statistics show that very few adult women are actually ok with their body or have a healthy relationship with food.
Someone with an adult eating disorder may be less likely to reach out for help because they are ashamed of their disorder, or in denial that it even exists. Since eating disorders are often associated with teenagers, adults suffering from them might feel like its an immature or nonexistent problem, something that they should be able to “fix” themselves.
There are many medical issues associated with adult eating disorders, many of which are similar to the medical issues experienced by younger people. In some cases, the issues are exaggerated, like increasing menopausal symptoms, and hastening neuromuscular disease. Drinking alcohol when you have an adult eating disorder great increases the risk of death from a medical issue or suicide. This is not something to take lightly.
No matter who you are, in what phase of life, it is always important to take good care of yourself. If you are suffering from an adult eating disorder, getting help is the first and best thing you can do. There is a big chance that your disorder comes from somewhere else, like a mood disorder or history of drug or alcohol abuse. It also may not. Whatever the case may be, we are here to help guide you through your recovery in a non-judgemental environment. Get help before your eating disorder gets out of control, and you will quickly be on your way to a happier, healthier life.