More older women living with bulimia

eating disorders in older womenThe secretive nature of eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa means the problems can be extremely difficult to identify, leaving those living with the disease to suffer in silence as their symptoms go unnoticed.



And while the common belief among many individuals is that the mental illnesses are primarily endured by teenage girls who develop an obsession with their food intake in an attempt to be as skinny as possible, a more shocking picture is actually the reality.

Clinics that treat patients suffering from anorexia nervosa and bulimia have reported a significant rise in the number of older women seeking professional help for eating disorders.

In fact, some 78 per cent of deaths from anorexia occur in women over the age of 50 - which somewhat challenges the stereotype.

Many older women develop the conditions after experiencing some kind of trauma or stress in later life, such as a divorce or the loss of a loved one, while others have managed to battle the problem in secret.

For this reason, it is important for individuals to increase their knowledge on the symptoms of bulimia - which is usually more difficult to spot - if they are worried about a family member who seems to have been acting unusually in recent months.

Among the main telltale signs of bulimia is binge eating, which involves consuming vast quantities of calorific food without having felt hungry or needing to eat, as this can often be carried out as an attempt to deal with emotional problems.

The process of binge eating, which can quickly become obsessive, extremely quick and can make individuals feel extremely uncomfortable afterwards.

While the majority of people are guilty of overindulging on their favourite desserts or a takeaway meal, those suffering from bulimia do so on a regular basis.

Purging, which is another symptom of bulimia, usually comes as a response to binging and involves the emotional feelings of guilt, regret and self-hatred. However, the main impulse in this situation is the fear of gaining weight.

Some people purge by making themselves sick or taking laxatives to encourage their body to pass the food quickly, while others take diet pills, carry out extreme exercise or endure periods of starvation to keep the weight off.

And new mother Sara from Lanarkshire, who spoke openly about her fight with eating disorders to the Scottish Daily Record, admitted that every day is a battle to control the illness that once nearly killed her.

She said: "Older people may have an added burden of feeling they’re somehow to blame for the condition, making it harder for them to seek or accept treatment, even though they were probably always disposed to developing an eating disorder.

"We are aware that increasing numbers of mature women are seeking help for their eating disorder.

"Successful older women, in their 40s and 50s, are given a higher media profile these days and become aspirational role models - this can affect some people who are particularly vulnerable because they are so driven to be perfect."

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