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Maturitas. 2016 Mar;85:112-6. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2015.12.017. Epub 2016 Jan 7.

Eating disorders in midlife women: A perimenopausal eating disorder?

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States. Electronic address: jhbaker@med.unc.edu.
2
Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States.

Abstract

Eating disorders afflict women across the lifespan with peak onset during critical or sensitive developmental periods of reproductive hormone change, such as puberty. A growing body of research supports the role of reproductive hormones, specifically estrogen, in the risk for eating disorders and related symptomatology in adolescence and young adulthood. Like puberty, perimenopause is characterized by estrogen change and may also present a window of vulnerability to eating disorder development. Here, we discuss the evidence that suggests perimenopause indeed may be a vulnerable period for the development or redevelopment of an eating disorder for midlife women. Drawing from what is known about the influence of estrogen on eating disorders at younger ages and from other psychiatric disorders with similar risk trajectories (i.e., perimenopausal depression), we describe a potential mechanism of risk for a perimenopausal eating disorder and how this can be explored in future research. Investigating vulnerability to perimenopausal eating disorders will clarify eating disorder etiology, identify reproductive stage-specific risk profiles, and guide future treatment directions.

KEYWORDS:

Anorexia; Binge eating; Bulimia; Estrogen; Hormones; Menopause; Midlife; Perimenopause

PMID:
26857889
DOI:
10.1016/j.maturitas.2015.12.017
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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