If there is anything we’ve learned over the many years of eating disorder research, it is that eating disorders are extremely complex. Often, this complexity is intensified by comorbidities, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and “personality disorders.” Unfortunately, individuals whose disorders are labeled persistent, chronic, or “difficult to treat” may be even less likely to receive the treatment and support they require, deserve, and desire.
“Standard” approaches to eating disorder treatment, such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), may prove ineffectual for these individuals. In a recent article, Federici & Wisniewski (2013) reflected on the difficulty of treating patients whose eating disorders are accompanied by other mental health issues. They noted that focusing on ED symptoms alone generally fails to achieve treatment goals, as behaviours associated with other disorders often decrease ED treatment effectiveness. This situation may leave both patients and clinicians feeling burnt out and unsatisfied (to say the least).
Resultantly, clinicians are turning to alternative therapeutic options for treating more complex cases, including dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT). Federici & Wisniewski explored preliminary data from pre/post case series …
The first published case of a late-onset eating disorder (at the age of 40) was in 1930 by John M. Berkman. In 1936, John A. Ryle published a case study of an eating disorder in a 59-year-old woman. Just how common are eating disorders in late middle-age or elderly individuals?
There aren’t a lot of studies on this topic, but the the above figures illustrate that there’s a significant minority of elderly individuals who struggle with eating disorders or disordered eating.
What causes or precipitates eating disorders in late adulthood? Well first, it is important to keep in mind that a proportion of eating disorders in late-life occur in women who either never recovered from their early onset eating disorder or in those who had a remitting/relapsing ED pattern throughout life. But many do develop eating disorders for the first time in their 50′s, 60′s, and 70′s.
In 2010, Maria Lapid and colleagues published a review paper of all the published case studies of eating disorders in individuals over the age of 50. They found 48 studies. I’ve summarized the …
They are crazy stories, really. It is hard to believe they are true.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while (or literature on this topic) you know the answer is no. I’ve blogged about this before, but I think it is a topic that needs a lot more coverage because the myths that all anorexia nervosa patients are just afraid of being fat, that they lose weight just to be thin, and that thin models are to blame for AN are still very common.
As you’ll see, I am not claiming that this isn’t true for some patients. Instead, what I am claiming is that it is not true for all patients.
And a big personal goal of mine with this blog is to broad the conversation about eating disorders. Let’s get away from stereotypes and painting all anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa patients in the same light. Let’s instead have meaningful discussions about research on eating disorders, about our experiences, and let’s develop a more comprehensive understanding of eating disorders that’s enriched by the research and the science, and our personal experiences as patients, friends, family members, partners, …
As many of you already know, Vogue has recently banned models that are “too-thin” (and “too young”). It is a big step in the right direction, no, a huge step, and one deserving an applause, that’s according to an article on allvoices.com. Cue a drop in the prevalence of eating disorders, right? The logic in most articles, whether implicit or explicit, seems to be: no more skinny models = no more girls aspiring to be like skinny models = no more eating disorders.
Sounds more like a PR move to me, but OK. I do have some questions and thoughts:
What does “appear[ing] to have an eating disorder” mean? Bulimics, by definition, are of normal weight or overweight. Conversely, being thin doesn’t mean having an eating disorder.
BMI above or below a certain number is not a marker of “good health”. BMI demarcations are not scientifically derived and were never meant to be applied on an individual basis.
Finally, this perpetuates the idea that looking at skinny models for too long leads to an eating disorder. It …
Too many people still mistakenly believe that eating disorders are for the Mary-Kates, Nicole Richies and Lara-Flynn Boyles, or vain adolescent and teenage girls aspiring to be just like them. Actually, as I’ve blogged earlier, even male veterans in late middle age are not immune to struggling with anorexia and bulimia nervosa. All in all, males make up ~ 5-10% of all eating disorder sufferers.
But what about those that dread having to check off “male/man” or “female/woman” on a data form? The individuals who feel their gender identity is not the same as their birth sex. Perhaps they were born in a female body, with two XX chromosomes, but they feel and prefer to think of themselves as males, or the reverse? There’s some research (albeit limited, due to the rarity of both gender dysphoria and eating disorders) that suggests these individuals face an increased risk of developing eating disorders.
The most relevant and recent study on the intersection of gender identity and eating disorders that I found was published by Vocks et al. in 2009. The goal …
Today, I spent the morning and early afternoon in the ER.
Here’s the run down of what happened: I woke up feeling slightly nauseated, but okay enough to do my usual long walk before going to the lab. However, things went downhill during lab meeting. I was presenting today, and right before it was my time, I felt really nauseated to the point of wanting to get up to go throw up in the bathroom. I didn’t, instead I just closed my eyes for a bit, then went ahead with my presentation. It was fine at first. But, somewhere near the end, I started feeling dizzy and light-headed, very rapidly. My supervisor and others were asking me questions, but I couldn’t focus on answering them. I couldn’t think. Then, I could barely hear. Everything was dizzy, and I felt really faint. I almost fainted, but didn’t (I was sitting). This was all happening very fast. I was also sweating a lot, soaked in sweat, really, and sharp abdominal pain did not help. Anyway, with the help of others, who said …