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Eating Disorders

It's a trend that is alarming for a number of reasons. As dangerous as all eating disorders are, they pose a much larger threat to an older person’s health than to a younger person. For instance, a sturdy 20-year-old may be able to overcome the cycle of starving or bingeing and purging; such extremes in the less resilient body of an older person can spell serious heart problems & damage to internal organs. They are literally putting their lives at risk!

Self-Esteem

The one thing I see so much in all sufferers of an Eating Disorder is their low self-esteem.

Often they feel as though they are not good enough, that they never do anything right, that they are scrutinized by others for their appearance and that their lives would get better if they could just lose weight.

Sufferers can feel like they do not deserve to be happy, that they do not deserve good things to happen to them and don't deserve to have anything but what is felt as a miserable existence. They often feel like a burden to others, trivialize their own problems and feel as though other people deserve help more than them.

However, it is not uncommon for Eating Disorder sufferers to be viewed by others as compassionate, warm, giving, sensitive, and intelligent people. The problem is that each person suffering cannot see the beauty in themselves that others see. Their own hate from within distorts their perception of how truly wonderful they really are.

Signs of Trouble

  • An overuse of drugs, such as “over the counter” weight-loss medication.
  • Over exercising (An unhealthy amount would look something like three to four hours per day every day of the week).
  • A pre-occupation with body image and food intake.

Bulimia Nervosa

A condition in which the person has problems in accepting normal weight, but also where the problem is one of binge eating followed by vomiting and laxatives or other medication abuse. They still may manage to keep a normal body weight but at the cost of a great deal of emotional and physical suffering.

Bulimia is often accompanied by a chaotic lifestyle, not only in terms of eating but also in terms of other aspects of their life. Sufferers from bulimia nervosa may be older than sufferers from anorexia nervosa. Many suffer the symptoms of both conditions, but it is thought that bulimia is three times more common.

Anorexia Nervosa: the Relentless Pursuit of Thinness

  • Person refuses to maintain normal body weight for age and height.
  • Young girls do not begin to menstruate at the appropriate age. Puberty is delayed in both sexes.
  • In women, menstrual periods stop. In men, levels of sex hormones fall. Sex drive disappears or is much diminished.
  • Person denies the dangers of low weight.
  • Sufferers are terrified of gaining weight even though they are alarmingly underweight!

In addition, anorexia nervosa often includes depression, irritability, withdrawal, and strange behaviors such as compulsive rituals and unusual eating habits. They tend to divide food into "good/safe" and "bad/dangerous" categories. Person may have low tolerance for change and new situations and may fear growing up and assuming adult responsibilities and an adult lifestyle.

They may be overly dependent on parents or family. Dieting may represent avoidance of [or attempts to cope with] demands of a new life stage such as adolescence.

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