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Elder Anorexia

Question:

At 61 years, I find I have drifted back towards the anorexia I suffered as a teenager. I’m only anorexic in the sense that I’m phobic about putting on weight; I feel hopelessly suicidally out of control if I override my sense of fullness, and if I find I am putting on weight. I eat plenty, but the problem is if I lose weight through being unwell or extra busy, I can’t regain it. My efforts to tackle this problem head on have been disastrous, but tackling it indirectly, by trying to improve my life in other respects, seems to have left me losing weight. My BMI is about 16.5, not too bad, but I don’t want it to keep getting lower and I know it should be a bit higher. Do you have any advice?

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Answer:

Sure. My advice is to seek the help of a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders and depression so that you can be properly evaluated. There is a possibility that you are at least somewhat depressed. If depression is found (and it doesn’t have to look like depressed mood – it can look like irritability, anxiety, agitation), it should be treated – perhaps with medication and perhaps with psychotherapy. There are also reasonable psychotherapies for treating eating problems these days. Another thing you might think about would be to have a physical with a medical doctor and to discuss any medications you’re on with that doctor. Medicines you might be on might be helping your current situation along and might be profitably evaluated. As you probably know – eating disorders are serious conditions that can (when unchecked and extreme) become life-threatening. It is far better to get yourself checked out and to enlist the help of someone who is trained to help this sort of problem than to try to go it alone.

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