Too busy to eat, the working mothers with ‘stressorexia’

Daily Mail (UK) 2nd February 2008

Modern women pride themselves on being able to juggle a career and a family while still looking good. But the drive to have it all has started to take its toll, according to experts. They say that a new type of eating disorder is emerging among maturer women – “stressorexia”. The condition affects those in their late 20s to 40s who are unwilling or unable to reduce their workload. As they become drained, anxious and stressed-out, they stop eating properly, and can experience dramatic weight loss.

Experts claim that “stressorexia” is different from the more common anorexia. Most sufferers of anorexia are younger and have emotional problems, choosing not to eat as a way of keeping control over their bodies. Many have negative feelings about themselves, such as low selfworth, extreme fear of rejection and a distorted self-image.

But “stressorexia” is occurring in older, motivated and intelligent women with high expectations. It is believed that the disorder may often start with a skipped lunch due to work deadlines but can quickly worsen. But these women, who live in a world where the lines between the sexes’ traditional roles have been blurred, then begin to feel that food is the only thing they can control. Dr Adrian Lord, consultant psychiatrist at the Cygnet Hospital in Harrow, a private psychiatric clinic, said: “Stressorexia is not a scientific diagnosis that a doctor would make but anecdotally its symptoms are very prevalent among women.