Eating Disorders in Women over 40 (or 50 or 60 or 70 or 80+)
- Category: Culture and Media
Elusive numbers and false beliefs Numbers are elusive in eating disorder statistics. Many people with eating disorders never let themselves be seen or known in a way that will allow their presence to be counted. Every woman over forty who has ever been in my practice for eating disorder recovery believed she was a shameful exception. This belief is not true.
Eating disorders at any age Women of every age can suffer from an eating disorder. An eating disorder can come on at any age. A woman of any age with an eating disorder is understandable and not exceptional, at least not in terms of the illness. An adult woman with an eating disorder feels shame because shame is a symptom, not a personality trait or character trait.
Why the older woman with an eating disorder is not seen Because eating disorders often begin at an early age, the disorder has become associated with pre-teen and adolescence. But an eating disorder can become apparent at any time in a person’s life. An eating disorder in an older woman may go unnoticed or unrecognized because an adult woman has more access than a child to tools that will help her hide, disguise or, sadly, glorify her symptoms. Perhaps if our society recognized this situation more women over forty would come out of hiding. With less shame and more open acknowledgment of their illness they could seek the recovery help that could be theirs and could lead them to greater health and freedom.