All About the People Ltd
All About the People Ltd
All About the People Ltd

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Eating disorders are not just confined to the young!

Whilst the media are keen to feature stories about eating disorders in the young, new research from University College London suggests that around 3% of women in their 40s and 50s have an eating problem. Whilst this figure seems high, it is difficult to say whether this is a new phenomenon or if it is because this age group have not been studied in great detail before.

Miriam Bannnon, owner and director of All About People Ltd, a well-established private counselling practice in Leamington Spa. “Eating disorders are often blamed on the social pressure to be thin and the fact that many young people in particular feel they should look a certain way. However, the causes are usually more complex. There is usually a range of influencing factors including distorted body image, negative beliefs, low self-esteem or family culture. Often an eating disorder will be triggered by a life event which combined with other factors encourage the condition to continue develop.”

The most common reasons for the onset of an eating disorder in the young include, childhood unhappiness; parental divorce or separation; life events; relationship with parents; and sexual abuse. So what could be the cause of this rise in eating disorders amongst middle-aged women in the UK?

The research suggests that the contributing factors are at least in part down to emotional upheavals in later life. This can include divorce or relationship breakdowns, caring for an elderly parent/relative, reliving childhood traumas, financial problems and bereavement.

Improve access to care at all ages of life

Many of those interviewed admitted that it was the first time they had been brave enough to discuss their issue or seek treatment, which raised a number of significant concerns that women might see some perceived barrier in talking about it, an expectation that people grow out of eating disorders or a lack of awareness among healthcare professionals. This clearly highlights a need to improve access to care at all ages of life and of course continuing research into the long-term impact of childhood traumas will be very important in years to come to reduce the incidence of eating disorders.

Rebecca Field of the eating disorder charity Beat said: “Eating disorders come at all ages, not just for people under the age of 18, and there are many life changes like divorce and bereavement which happen to people in later life and can act as triggers.”

Causes of eating disorders are complex

Miriam Bannon said. “There are also some risk factors that can make someone more likely to have an eating disorder. These can include anything from a family history of dieting or sibling eating disorders, being criticised for body shape or weight, to stressful situations, difficult relationships with family members or friends, and/or having an obsessive personality, anxiety disorder or being a perfectionist.”

Miriam continues. “As active members of the professional counselling association BACP, we are committed to helping both adults and children to explore and adopt a more positive relationship with food. I and my team of qualified counsellors/ psychotherapists, use a broad collection of skills, knowledge and expertise to deliver bespoke counselling support which equips people to be able to understand the reasons behind their obsession with their weight. Over time, this can lead to improved body image and increased feelings of self-worth.”

Miriam concludes. “If you are concerned about a friend or family member, it can be difficult to know what to do. It is common for someone with an eating disorder to be secretive and defensive about their eating and their weight, and they are likely to deny being unwell. We offer support to both the sufferer and their carer as it can be equally distressing for the person supporting the individual with an eating disorder.”

To find out more about eating disorders and how counselling can help, make an appointment to see your GP, or contact The National Centre for Eating Disorders (NCFED) who have an affiliate network of counsellors throughout the country. www.eating-disorders.org.uk

Due to increased demand All About People now offer appointments on Saturdays with an Eating Disorder Specialist Therapist. For further information or to make an appointment contact Miriam either by phone 01926 882521 or by email info@aapcounselling.co.uk

 

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