3 Things Not to Say to Someone Suffering from Anorexia

anorexic womanDid you know that among all eating disorders and mental illness, anorexia has the highest rate of fatality? Based on statistics, between 1% and 4.2% of women were diagnosed and have suffered from this eating disorder during their lifetime and about 4% of them have died due to complications. What’s sad to know is that only about one-third of people suffering from this eating disorder across the U.S. get the treatment they need.

If you know someone undergoing treatment for anorexia, there are things you can do to help them get better. Let’s start with what you shouldn’t say to a person being treated. Here are some of them:

1. Don’t ask them if they’ve seen their therapist lately.

Of course, you’d want to know if they’re meeting their therapist and getting the treatment they need. Remember that asking the right question in the wrong way can send off a negative vibe.
If you phrase it like, “Have you seen your therapist today?” then it could make the person think that there’s something wrong with them and that they should get “fixed” immediately or worse, they could think that they’re helpless. A better way to phrase it would be, “You seem to be having a hard time lately, do you want to talk about it?”

2. Don’t ask them to just stop throwing up.

Anorexia patients are consistently struggling with self-induced vomiting. They’re having a hard time stopping themselves that if you ask them this question straight to their faces, it could just increase their sense of guilt, shame, and even depression. It can even trigger purge episodes.

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3. Don’t tell them how unhealthy or sick they look.

Even if you mean well, telling them how sickly they look will never end well. In fact, you shouldn’t tell them how thin they look, even if your goal is to convince them to seek treatment for anorexia. It’s always better to be on the safe side and avoid talking to them about weight or appearance.

If you want to help someone fighting anorexia, the first thing to do is to educate yourself about what the disorder is. This way, you can help people you love to get the right treatment and the right support system.