Anorexia in women is often associated with the young. High school and college-aged women are often afflicted with anorexia and other eating disorders. Middle-aged women suffer from this disorder, and can be at a high risk for health problems arising from the toll anorexia takes on their bodies.
Anorexia in Women is Still Largely Misunderstood
Anorexia in women remains misunderstood despite the fact that it has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, including anxiety and depression. There also remains a stigma surrounding it, which makes it hard for people who are suffering to seek out the treatment they so desperately need.
This lack of getting treatment in time can lead to unnecessary complications and even death. Especially older women may have a problem speaking out about their eating disorder because of feeling shameful and like they are letting down their families.
Similarly to drug and alcohol addiction, middle-aged women face extra stigma surrounding this affliction because of their supposed roles in society. The truth is that with addiction and eating disorders, no one is immune, and anyone can suffer.
The Unique Challenges of Dealing With an Eating Disorder in Middle Age
The fact of the matter is that more times than not, a women experiencing an eating disorder in middle age is not experiencing it for the first time. That can mean that they have been slowly falling towards rock bottom of their eating disorder, or have been flirting with it for years. Perhaps it started back when they were in their teens or twenties. That leaves a long time for the detrimental effects of eating disorders to impact their body.
Physicians themselves often overlook anorexia in women who are older because their first thought is that weight loss or changes in appetite are a result of a different disorder or disease. They never have eating disorders at the forefront of their mind when dealing with this population.
A study was recently published by the John Hopkins Mood Disorder Clinic in which they sampled a random group of 475 women between the ages of 60-70. They found that of those women, 90% said they felt fat, and 60% were unsatisfied with their bodies. Four percent of these women met the criteria for an eating disorder.
Women can be affected by an eating disorder at any age. It’s widely important for them to know that accepting themselves, even if they are in the aging process, is crucial to their well-being, and the happiness of the people that love them.