If You Suspect Someone Has an Eating Disorder

It is important to know that frequently, individuals with eating disorders resist the idea of help. This may be a function of shame, denial, and/or concern that treatment will trigger uncontrollable weight gain.

If you are the parent of a child or adolescent with symptoms of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, you may need to mobilize treatment efforts without your child's complete cooperation. Statements such as "Because I love you, I want to find the help you need, even if that makes you angry," convey a message that blends firmness with kindness. Attempts to make your child as worried about him- or herself as you are (e.g., "Can't you see how thin you are?!") will likely fail.

If you are the friend or relative of a person with an eating disorder, first try addressing the problem directly, in private, specifying the behaviors about which you are concerned.

If your friend is a child or adolescent, it may be appropriate to share your concerns with an adult, such as a teacher, school counselor, or parent. Remember, eating disorders are life-threatening illnesses.

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New York, NY 10029