When you hear about eating disorders, you almost always think of a teenager or very young adult. The scary truth is that countless adult women also suffer with eating disorders, and oftentimes they don’t even realize they have one. The most commonly reported eating disorders in adult women are anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and over-exercise bulimia.
>> Read more: The New Anorexic: No Longer a Teenage Trend
Dawn Wiggins, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, says that binge eating was not previously classified as an eating disorder but will soon be included in the newest edition of the diagnostic manuals that is used in the field of psychology. “This is a disorder where food is used to soothe out of control feelings,” Wiggins said. “Binging is done in secret and the individual feels totally driven by the desire to eat, much like a drug addict to use drugs.”
Dr. Kim Dennis, a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorders, says that women over 35 are especially prone to developing an eating disorder because they tend to experience several life transitions that serve as eating disorder triggers. Some of these triggers include martial problems or divorce, job loss, relocation, birth of a child, children leaving the home, terminal illness in a parent or loved one and the death of friends or family members. Marjorie Nolan, MS, RD, CDN, believes that many of these women have been battling eating disorders since their teenage years but it has only now begun to greatly affect their lives and the lives of those people closest to them.
While it is unfortunate is that many women do not realize their eating disorder has become a problem, or that they even have one. There are several signs that can help them, as well as their loved ones, identify an eating disorder. According to Dr. Dennis, these signs include:
- Changes in social functioning, such as decreased time spent with family or friends, skipping meals with family or not eating/barely eating at all
- Drastic weight changes
- Cutting out certain food groups from their diets (such as carbs or fats)
- Increasing amount of time spent exercising
- Engaging in extreme dieting or exercise behavior
- Dependence on diet pills or laxatives
- Using prescription medications to lose weight (specifically ADHD medications, most of which are stimulants)
- Abusing prescription medications to control appetite or lose weight
- And even getting a naso-gastric tube inserted, in order to lose 10-20 pounds rapidly.
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