At age 48, Millie (fictional name) finally seeks treatment for her eating disorder. She is not alone. She falls into a growing, often misdiagnosed, and wholly un-researched category of people pursuing their first eating disorder treatment later in life. Today, approximately forty percent of the patients in Walden’s Connecticut Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) are forty or over, and this trend is enriching our understanding of the onset and persistence of eating disorders.
Seeking your first eating disorder treatment in mid-life presents unique challenges specific to this age group. You might be saying to yourself, “I’m too busy with my family and career to seek treatment now.” Yet not seeking timely treatment can present devastating short term and long term consequences, and even compromise these important priorities. Consider what your life might look like in three years without treatment. Do you want your osteopenia to turn into osteoporosis that may cause fractures, making you physically unable to maintain an active life, to run after your grandkids or to garden? Shall you continue to endure loving family members’ sadness and stress? Consider how three more years on this path would affect your financial, familial, physical and mental health.
Three types of adults may suffer from an eating disorder:
1) Those who have struggled with a past eating disorder that was left untreated
2) Individuals whose eating disorder went into remission and resurfaced later in life
3) Those whose eating disorders emerged later in life
Recovery is possible at any age – take MSNBC’s Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski for example. In her new book, “Obsessed: America’s Food Addiction – and My Own,” Mika discusses her decades-long struggle with disordered eating and a negative body image. She did not seek treatment until her mid-forties. Happily, however, her account of her experience has sparked a much needed conversation around disordered eating behaviors, including eating disorders, in mid-life.
If you fall into this category, schedule an eating disorder evaluation. Talking with a trained eating disorder professional during an evaluation does not mean you need to begin treatment right away; it can be a time to discuss your struggles and hear a clinician’s impressions and recommendations. Walden is here should you want to contact us to discuss options moving forward. The phone number for the CT Walden site is (860) 533-4672. We also offer programs for adults with eating disorders at our Waltham, Braintree, Worcester and Northampton, MA facilities. You can find the contact information for each of these sites by visiting our website – www.Waldenbehavioralcare.com. We are dedicated to helping you find your own effective path towards health and recovery, and a long and active life.
Kate Rosenblatt, MA LPC is a clinician specializing in the treatment of eating disorders. She strongly believes that recovery is possible at any age and actively strives to build a world where fewer people suffer from eating disorders. Kate works in both the partial hospitalization program and the intensive outpatient program at Walden Behavioral Care in South Windsor, CT. She received her MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University, where she specialized in Holistic Studies. A coffee enthusiast, Kate is on a constant, cross-country search for the best mocha latte, as documented in her online journal Del Mocha Vista. http://delmochavista.wordpress.com/