It is well established that caring for someone with a mental health problem has negative effects on both the mental and physical health of the carer and previous research has found that the carers of people with eating disorders experience a high level of distress and burden in their caregiving role. A sample of 115 individuals currently caring for someone with an eating disorder found that approximately 36% of them showed mental-health difficulties with 17% experiencing high psychological distress. A negative experience of caregiving was associated with carers' distress. The dependency of the individual with the eating disorder and the stigma associated with the illness were most highly predictive of carers' distress. Looking after someone who had recently become ill, higher levels of needs and a higher perception of the seriousness of the consequences of eating disorders also contributed to greater negative caregiving appraisals. The belief that the illness was attributable to the sufferer's personality was associated with fewer positive appraisals of caregiving.
Whitney, Jenna ..l [et al] - Caring for people with eating disorders: factors associated with psychological distress and negative caregiving appraisals in carers of people with eating disorders British Journal of Clinical Psychology 2007 46(4), 413-428