Grown women struggling with eating disorders is the latest, hidden national epidemic. While some adults may have initially developed their illness in their pre-teen or teenage years, clinicians are seeing a steady increase in eating disorders developed during adulthood.
For adult women, the triggers are often mid-life anxieties: divorce, children leaving home or “empty nest syndrome,” a chronically ill relative, the loss of a parent, or extreme loneliness.
Our youth-obsessed culture plays a role in determining our body image, too. In our society, aging is more difficult for women than it is for men. Thin is in, has been, and always will be. And being thin is a good thing. But being too thin is not.
According to a report by ABC News, experts believe between 1 million and 3 million middle-aged women in the U.S. have anorexia or bulimia, and 1 in 10 eating disorder patients is over age forty.
Just like with their teenage counterparts, there are signs to watch for in adults: an obsessive element to eating patterns, preoccupation with weight, high volume exercise.
If you or someone you love is battling an eating disorder and you don’t know where to turn, talk with your family physician. Your doctor will be able to guide you or your loved one to an eating disorders treatment center or program.
(Written for KidsTerrain)