Midlife Eating Disorders

Midlife Eating Disorders

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Midlife Eating Disorders Often have been present yet undetected due to life situations and can catch you by surprise that they are still there. Anorexia and bulimia used to be considered diseases that afflicted only young women but recently healthcare professionals are seeing men and women in their 30 and 40s and older struggling as well. Some struggled with anorexia or bulimia in their preteens, teens and 20s. With years of recovery and health behind them, old thoughts and behaviors return, spiraling them back into their disease.

Doctors believe hormonal fluctuations related to peri-menopause and menopause may be a factor. Midlife brings significant social changes at a time of emotional and physical change. Divorce, career stress and the departure of grown children may be catalysts for personal betterment. For some adults, midlife brings threats of heart disease or diabetes. After a doctor’s warning, they start a quest for weight loss and health that starts as a personal quest for wellness but at some point, the desperate drive for thin and fit takes them to dangerous eating patterns, purging and extreme exercise.

Eating disorders do not only affect women. Psychiatrists and mental health professionals see many young men and, recently, grown men approaching midlife struggling with these disorders. The same triggers affect men as women and they engage in the same self-destructive behaviors. In midlife, for both women and men, building careers and families can be distracting and can cause a perceived reprieve from an eating disorder. Once midlife descends and the demands of family and career decrease the noise of the eating disorder can increase as well as the behaviors thereof.

As the underlying causes are complex and the psychological and physical impact is life threatening, it is imperative to encourage and seek professional treatment for eating disorders. If you have an eating disorder or suspect someone you care about is suffering, ask for help.