Monday, August 22, 2011

Eating Disorders: No Longer Just For Young Females

Eating Disorders: No Longer Just For Young Females@ Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

Mid-life Eating Disorders

Risk Factors for Middle-Aged Women

In general, an eating disorder is rarely the result of one isolated event or life situation. Certain factors can contribute to the development of an eating disorder, such as genetics, dieting, perfectionism, trauma, or the influence of media. However, the development, re-appearance or escalation of an eating disorder in midlife is thought to be triggered by drastic or unexpected life transitions. These catalysts can include:

Divorce or separation, regardless of the whys behind it, is a difficult transition time. Women may struggle with fears of spending the remainder of their lives alone. Returning to the world of dating may cause extreme anxiety and insecurity. After all, every day women are confronted with media messages telling them that females must be rail thin to achieve success and receive love. Under such an onslaught, a woman's self-esteem diminishes, while her body dissatisfaction escalates. In order to achieve a younger, thinner, and more desirable body, she may turn to extreme measures to lose weight. Her dieting and/or exercising could easily get out of control.

Aging body
Clearly, the American culture is obsessed with youth, which places extreme pressure on women as they age. Fountain of youth fixes such Botox injections, fillers and cosmetic surgery are a multi-million dollar industry. Remaining slender is part of this youth obsession, even though it's abnormal for women over 30 to have the same bodies as they did at 18. The necessity to maintain a certain weight is particularly critical when a woman's identity and self-esteem is wrapped up in her appearance. This may galvanize her to seek a thin, youthful body through unhealthy behaviors, such as food restriction, diet pills, extreme exercise, illicit drugs, laxatives, or even purging.

Empty Nest
Children leaving home can prove highly traumatic for some mothers. This is especially true when a woman is defined by her children and her primary identity is that of being a mother. Without children to validate her role as mother, she may feel worthless. Focusing on appearance, diets, health, and exercise can fill that empty space and provide new identity.

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