The revelation of the fact that adult women suffer from eating disorders is the revelation that occurs when a curtain is lifted. What's behind the curtain has been there for a long time.
UPI.com, out of London, posts this article: Anorexia, bulimia affecting older patients.
Sylvia Dahabra, a Newcastle psychiatrist who works for the regional specialist eating disorders service, reports that the rarity of seeing an adult woman seeking help for an eating disorder is changing. What she doesn't say, because no one can know how many people do not seek help, is if the rising numbers of adult women, including women in their sixties and above, are due to an increase in the illness or an increase in the willingness to seek help.
From my perspective as an eating disorder recovery therapist, eating disorders have always affected women of all ages. Slowly information that has been hidden through shame and fear makes its way to the surface. The challenge is to bring only the information and let the shame and fear fall away in the light of day.
Women, regardless of age, can suffer from eating disorders. I've been in private practice as a therapist in Los Angeles specializing in treating only adults with eating disorders for almost thirty years. Sometimes an eating disorder develops when a woman is in decades beyond her twenties. Sometimes a woman has struggled in secret with an eating disorder that began in her teens and continues on into her 60's and beyond. The youngest person I accept into my practice is 22. The oldest I've treated for an eating disorder was in her seventies. They suffer from anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, compulsive eating and various combinations of them all. They feel shame and fear when an eating disorder they thought they left behind in their teens comes back in their forties or fifties. They are shocked and ashamed when, in their thirties, they develop an eating disorder they believe is limited to teen-agers.
The best news about revealing the presence of eating disorders in women of all ages is that, with knowledge, the people in our society can develop awareness, understanding and compassion. This can create a more kind environment toward people with eating disorders so they can reach out for the treatment that is truly effective.
Perhaps that is happening now as organizations like UPI.com make more public the fact of rising numbers of women well beyond their teens seeking treatment. Hopefully, adult women will see that they are not alone in their suffering, that eating disorders are not a shame to hide but an illness from which to heal. That may encourage even more women to come out from behind the curtain and get the help they need.
I've seen women of all ages go through a mindful, deep and courageous healing path and become free.