Common Adult Eating Disorders

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The average person’s knowledge about eating disorders often includes stereotypes. For example, many people believe that eating disorders only happen to teenagers and that they outgrow them as adults. In fact, adult eating disorders are quite common and affect not only the individual but also the lives of their loved ones. Trellis Recovery Centers created a program to treat adult eating disorders that meets each person where they are and helps them recover. We understand the challenges that come with adult life like marriage, children, and careers, and how having an eating disorder negatively impacts them. Our residential program provides a transdiagnostic approach that specifically targets adults with eating disorders and how to help them heal.

How Common Are Eating Disorders in Adults? 

Many times someone who has an eating disorder does not receive a diagnosis and suffers silently. As well, due to the nature of the illness, a lot of people are too embarrassed to share their struggles with others. As a result, how many individuals have eating disorders can surprise people. Approximately 9% of Americans will experience an eating disorder in their lifetime. Eating disorders are the second deadliest mental illness, after opioid overdose. In fact, 10,200 people die each year as a result of their eating disorders. 

While many eating disorders develop during adolescence, they can also begin later in life. Those individuals who do not recover before they turn 18 become part of the population of those with adult eating disorders. Approximately 25% of college-aged women use binging and purging as a method of managing their weight. These types of behaviors, including restricting food and compulsive exercising, can seem like plausible ways to try to achieve a certain body type. Sadly, they are actually signs of an eating disorder commonly accepted in many adults. 

What are The Types of Eating Disorders Adults Suffer From Most? 

There are a variety of types of adult eating disorders that drastically impact a person’s physical and mental health. A qualified eating disorder-trained expert can perform an assessment to determine which one a person has and prescribe a treatment program. The types of adult eating disorders include:

Anorexia in Adults

Anorexia causes a person to have a distorted ability to see their own bodies accurately. They attempt to maintain an unhealthy low weight through restricting food, compulsive exercising, and other controlling behaviors.

Bulimia in Adults

Adults with bulimia engage in episodes of binge eating large amounts of food followed by purging. Methods of purging include self-induced vomiting, and taking laxatives and diuretics. 

Binge Eating Disorder in Adults

Binge eating disorder causes a person to regularly consume extreme amounts of food, often to the point of physical discomfort. They feel shame and remorse but are unable to break the cycle.

ARFID in Adults

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) causes a person to have hyper-sensitivity to certain foods related to taste, texture, smell, and how they look. As a result, they eat only a small amount of types of foods and compromise their nutritional intake.

OSFED in Adults

A person with Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) engages in atypical eating patterns and behaviors that do not strictly fit the diagnosis of one specific eating disorder. 

Pica in Adults

Pica causes a person to consistently crave and eat non-food items, some of which are dangerous. These items can include dirt, chalk, clay, and paint chips.

Why Do Adults Develop Eating Disorders? 

An adult can develop an eating disorder for a number of reasons. Some adults experience a traumatic event they cannot resolve. They may turn to eating disorder behaviors such as binge eating to soothe themselves or restricting food to feel some sort of control. It can also be a combination of ongoing events that cause a person to focus on extreme dieting, binge eating, purging, and other behaviors to distract themselves from the real issues.

Dieting becomes more common in adulthood, especially as a person’s metabolism naturally changes when they age. This can cause a person to start a diet with the best of intentions but it turns into eating disorder behaviors. Society rewards any sign of weight loss, which can make it hard for someone to realize they have developed a mental health disorder.

Many adults who get diagnosed with an eating disorder find that the roots of their illness began in adolescence. Sadly, it can take years or decades after developing an eating disorder before someone receives a proper diagnosis.

Is There Eating Disorder Treatment Specifically for Adults? 

Many treatment programs offer programs exclusively for adults with eating disorders. People seeking care for adult eating disorders range in age from late teens to middle-aged and retirement ages. Treatment focuses heavily on engaging in several types of therapy modalities. Each one offers ways to help the person understand how damaged their current views on their bodies and food have become. From there, they can learn healthy relationships with how they see themselves and what they consume. 

The types of therapy used to treat eating disorders include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Individual Psychotherapy
  • Holistic Therapy
  • Somatic Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Nutrition Counseling

Contact Our Adult Treatment Center for Eating Disorders in Los Angeles, California

Life as an adult is busy and often difficult even under the best of circumstances. When an adult also faces having a mental health disorder, it makes everything more complicated. Trellis Recovery Centers provides a highly effective residential program for adult eating disorders. Our staff of eating disorder-trained medical and psychological clinicians partners with each adult we treat and teaches them to recognize their own power. With our help, each woman we treat can begin recovery and reshape how she views her food and her body.

Are you ready to take back control of your life and discover what it takes to heal from an eating disorder? Contact us now and speak to one of our helpful admissions counselors.