It isn’t just teens who can suffer from eating disorders

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There is a common misconception that those who suffer with eating disorders are in the midst of their teens, but an increase in the usage of support services in Ireland has seen a jump in contact from people aged between 36 and 55 years of age.

That’s according to Bodywhys, the national , who have said that compared to 2014, there was a 19% increase  in email contacts from people aged between 36 and 55 and a 9% increase in calls in 2015.

Speaking about the increase, Harriet Parsons, Services Manager with Bodywhys said the organisation has seen a shift in the age profile of those accessing the support services. “This is further evidence that eating disorders are not confined to teenagers,” she said.

“The figures from our annual report for 2015 reflect that eating disorders continue to affect a broad range of people and that they require a number of support resources. Individual support, such as by phone or email, as well as peer support in a group setting, are vital to opening up for the first time, in managing a relapse or as a way of reducing isolation,” she added.

Parsons said that there are misconceptions surrounding eating disorders and many people don’t truly understand what they are. “An eating disorder is not something a person ‘chooses’ to do. It is a health crisis. It often develops over a period of time and has a significant effect on an individual’s physical and mental health. Our message to anyone who is living with an eating disorder is that it is not too late to seek support and that full recovery is possible.”

The annual report showed that while the age demographic in those using the support services has changed, there has also been a 10% increase in the overall usage of the services. The report also revealed that approximately half of all helpline callers were not receiving any form of treatment, while 46% of all helpline callers had experienced an eating disorder for over a decade.

The Department of Health and Children estimates that 200,000 people in Ireland are affected by eating disorders but Bodywhys insists that people do and can recover completely from the health crisis.

For more information or online support groups, visit www.BodyWhys.ie. You can also reach the helpline at LoCall 1890 200 444.