What Can You Do When a Loved One Suffers from Anorexia Nervosa?

a woman measuring her waist

If you suspect that a loved one or someone you care about has anorexia, you can tell them your concerns. Doing so may encourage them to seek help. As soon as you notice your loved one exhibiting signs of the said eating disorder, they may become defensive and refuse to talk about it.

In such cases, you may suggest that they read or learn more about eating disorders. This can alert them of the potential dangers. They may even be motivated to get help from treatment centers for anorexia nervosa.

Here are a few other tips that can help:

Learn More About Eating Disorder

As a friend or family member, it is also important that you read up and learn more about their condition. This will prepare you to offer whatever kind of support or assistance a loved one needs.

Listen to what they say and resist the urge to tell them what you think must be doing.

Explain Why You’re Worried

Be sure not to criticize or lecture a person with anorexia, as this will only make them defensive and distrustful. Try to mention specific behaviors and situations you have noticed and explain how and why they are worrisome.

Keep in mind that your objective is to voice out your concern about their health, not to provide simple solutions. Tell them that you care about them and you want them to seek help.

Be Aware of the Things You Shouldn’t Do or Say

People with anorexia nervosa or other kinds of eating disorders have distorted perception of body image and self-worth. This is why you shouldn’t make comments about their weight and appearance.

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Here are the other things you should not do or say:

  • Force them to go into treatment
  • Tell them: “All you have to do is eat” or “why don’t stop throwing up?”
  • Offer easy solutions like accepting yourself
  • Push them to talk about their feelings or rush them through the conversation

If they are hesitant to talk at first, keep the lines of communication open. Be sure to tell them and make them feel that you care. Assure them that you’ll always be there when they’re ready to talk or want to get help. You should also encourage them to seek treatment. If they are hesitant to go to the doctor, you can offer to make the appointment or accompany them on their first visit.