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Not Just for the Young Anymore: Eating Disorders Affecting More Adults

Eating disorders are equal-opportunity offenders – crossing economic and cultural boundaries and leaping the borders of age and gender. For a long time thought to be diseases affecting teens and young women in their 20s, eating disorder treatment centers nationwide are seeing an increase in the population of older women seeking help for eating disorders.

Physicians at Chicago-based Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, a leader in treatment for anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and overeating disorders, have seen significant growth in the number of women in their 30s, 40s and 50s with eating disorder symptoms. An article by the Associated Press in 2007 supports what doctors at Timberline Knolls are seeing on campus, stating that in recent years more women in these age groups have begun seeking help for eating disorders.

Experts attribute this to a number of reasons, including growing public awareness of the dangers of eating disorders, coupled with social pressure to be thin and an aging baby boomer population, many of whom battled undiagnosed eating disorders earlier in life.

"Many people don't understand how a woman could develop an eating disorder later in life, but many times women have secretly struggled with an eating disorder for years without seeking treatment, or they were treated when they were younger for an eating disorder that reoccurs later in life," said Kimberly Dennis, M.D., Medical Director at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center. "Eating disorders are treatable diseases, and full recovery is possible at any age with adequate treatment and support."

Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center recently opened a third residential lodge to help address the growing number of adult women seeking recovery from eating disorders, as well as alcoholism and drug addiction treatment, and treatment for mood and anxiety disorders. This lodge, Pine Lodge, doubled Timberline Knolls' capacity to serve adult women. With the expansion, Timberline Knolls also added specialized programming designed to meet the unique needs of an older age group, including women with children at home.

Regardless of age, for someone with an eating disorder, the inner voices of anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating shout that self worth is measured by physical appearance – and self-worth is always zero (or less). Yet the truth is that happiness and self-esteem are inside jobs which stem from loving and accepting yourself for who you truly are and taking "esteem-able" actions. That's only possible with lifelong recovery in the context of an abundantly supportive, ever-present recovery community.

About Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

Timberline Knolls is one of the leading private residential treatment centers for eating disorders, substance abuse, and trauma, with or without a dual diagnosis or cooccurring disorder. Expert treatment staff offers a nurturing environment of recovery for women and girls (ages 12 and older) on a wooded 43-acre campus in suburban Chicago. Women and families seeking Christian treatment have the option of working with a dedicated Christian therapist. For more information on Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, call us at 877.257.9611.


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