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Anorexia Nervosa

How Can I Help A Family Member Or Friend With Anorexia Nervosa?

Last modified: 
16/03/2012 - 14:54

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Family members and friends of a person with anorexia nervosa can provide important help and support. Here are some suggestions:

  • Learn about anorexia nervosa, including treatment options.
  • Talk with the person about your concerns, including specific behaviors you have noticed.
  • Encourage the person to talk with her or his health care provider or a mental health professional. Offer to go with the person to the appointment.
  • If the person denies the problem or refuses to get professional help, suggest that he or she talk with another trusted adult, such as a family member, friend, or teacher.
  • Exercise responsibility and authority in getting treatment if the person is a minor.
  • Be understanding and patient, but firm. Dealing successfully with anorexia nervosa takes time.
  • Do not blame yourself or the person with anorexia nervosa. It is not anyone's fault.
  • Do not focus on or try to control the person's eating, weight, or appearance.
  • Accept the person as he or she is, talk about feelings, and emphasize her or his strengths.
  • Take care of your needs too. Consider attending a support group.
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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.