News : Big Surge in Older Callers to Eating Disorders Helpline
Dublin, Ireland, Feb 22, 2016 -- The Eating Disorders Association of Ireland, Bodywhys, found there was an 89% increase in helpline calls last year from adults aged 36 to 55.
Bodywhys said the support requests showed that the occurrence of eating disorders was not confined to teenagers. There was a 13% increase in calls from 15 to 18-year-olds affected by an eating disorder.
Where disclosed, 44% of people who contacted Bodywhys by email or phone last year had an eating disorder for more than 10 years.
Bodywhys services manager, Harriet Parsons, said in recent years they had seen a change in the age profile of those who accessed their support services. There had been increased contacts from adults who were past their 20s looking for help for an eating disorder.
"There is a lessening in the myth that eating disorders solely affect teenagers or that they are a ‘teenage problem or phase,’" said Ms Parsons.
"Individuals who are in their mid-30s and up and who have been living with an eating disorder for many years, are starting to reach out and look for support in ways they may not have done so in the past," she said.
According to Bodywhys, eating disorders are experienced as disturbances in eating habits and are accompanied by physical and emotional distress.
Eating disorders lead to a deterioration of physical and psychological wellbeing and, ultimately, can cause death. People with an eating disorder rely on it to cope and quickly become terrified of letting go of it.
It might be clear to everyone else that people with a disorder are harming themselves but they really believe that maintaining it is the only way they can survive.
"As a serious and complex mental health issue, eating disorders can lead to heightened risk in terms of mortality and suicidality," said Ms Parsons.
"Our message for anyone who is living with an eating disorder is that they can access support and that their age is not a barrier to being listened to," said Ms Parsons.
There are around 200,000 people in Ireland who are affected by eating disorders and that means that people are likely to know somone who has been affected.
However, Bodywhys has found that eating disorders is still an issue that many people know little about.
Ms Parsons said eating disorders were complex and often occurred in secret. Because they were not always obvious to others, they could be part of a person’s life for a number of years.
However, despite the fear that may come from speaking out about an eating disorder, many people do look for help and support.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Wednesday, February 24, 2016