Eating Disorders Treatment – For many, the phrase Eating Disorder conjures up images of teenage girls wasting away and living on less than 100 calories a day or binge eating and purging behind their parents back. But more and more often, eating disorders are affecting adult women. Whether it’s anorexia, bulimia or binge eating – these disorders are affecting a growing number of adult women and, for these women, keeping it a secret can be even more deadly.
Many clinics have reported seeing an increase in patients over the age of 35 seeking help for eating disorder issues. One national rehabilitation company, Renfrew Center, made headlines in 2011 when it reported a 42% increase in adult patients for eating disorders across their 11 nationwide locations.
For some adult women, an eating disorder in later life is usually the reemergence of a disorder that may be have present in her teenage years but it’s just as likely that the disorder had been dormant and only surges to the surface for the first time in later life. As with teenage patients, eating disorders usually signal that the patient feels their own life is out of control and the control they exert over what they eat has significant psychological ties.
Older Patients, More Serious Problems
The effects of an eating disorder can vary from general malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies to the erosion of tooth enamel or weakening of the muscles, including the heart. In younger patients these can affect their current health as well as their future health as many younger patients are still developing when they struggle with the disease in their teens. For older women the risks are no better.
In fact, some of the risks can be worse, as their organs, muscles and general health may not be as robust as it was in their late teens or early twenties. For some older women, the effects of an eating disorder are swift and severe. This is one of the main reasons why doctors are beginning to look more closely at female patients who have lost a lot of weight but also complain of stomach problems, fatigue, blurry vision and any other signs which can be symptoms of disordered eating.
By and large, the treatment for adult patients with eating disorders is not unlike that for younger patients. Intensive counseling can help address psychological factors while nutritional support can teach healthy eating habits which allow patients to still feel in control of their bodies.
This two pronged approach usually requires a commitment from patients in both their time as well as their focused energy, but offers the greatest payoff. By treating the underlying cause of the problem while also arming patients with the information they need to make healthy choices, medical teams are able to give their patients the tools they need to survive and prevent relapse.