Anorexia can wake up after 50 years. To watch each morning in the mirror, weigh yourself after each meal, in short have the perfect body obsession, is not the prerogative of teenagers. It would seem that wisdom does not necessarily come with age. Indeed, according to an American study published in the journal International Journal of eating disorders, eating disorders also cause deaths in women over 50 years.
In this age group, 8% of women admit to performing food purges and 3% admit having had compulsive eating crises in the past month. And that can go well beyond 50 years. In this study, women over 75 years of age continued to make drastic diets.
Admittedly, the sample of the population is not representative of the population since a quarter of the women interviewed were obese and one-third overweight. But these figures reflect a reality. In fact, “remission in eating disorders exists but it is far from the rule. A woman over 50 who comes to consult for anorexia nervosa, in 9 out of 10 cases, disorders appeared years ago. “
These mature women can be old anorexic, suffering from sequelae. “In fact, on the occasion of a painful personal event such as a divorce, it is not uncommon to see these women decompensate, and therefore see again arise disorders,” said Thierry Vincent. His colleague Lyonnais, Dr. Edouard Carrier also finds it hard to believe that a woman develops anorexia nervosa at 50 years. According to him, this disorder often hides a very real depression. And antidepressants are the only solution.
Other situations may be misleading on the trail of anorexia nervosa. Some people in their 40s, for example, think that diet is the cause of all their ills, cholesterol, hypertension, etc. They take excessive measures to protect themselves. The last case: at these ages, “some diseases, such as breast cancer, are painful, and they can be accompanied by a loss of appetite. It is anorexia, but not mental.
A delicate care at 50 years
Anorexia and bulimia generally take root in adolescence. In contrast, binge eating – which still affects 3% of the population – may appear later. This excessive and compulsive consumption of food that is not accompanied by vomiting is not uncommon in obese people.
Once the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa is made, it remains to be seen whether a woman of 50 is treated as a 17-year-old girl. First certainty: if the relationship to food is complicated for decades, the care may be particularly difficult. “Especially since anorexics want to control everything. Renouncing their defense system therefore requires a lot of work on oneself, “says Edouard Carrier. One of the most commonly practiced therapies is couple therapy, because genetic vulnerability does not explain everything. The environment plays a major role.