Anorexia Nervosa

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What should I do if I think someone I know has Anorexia?

If someone you know is showing signs of anorexia, you may be able to help.

  • Set a time to talk
    • Set aside a time to talk privately with your friend. Make sure you talk in a quiet place where you won't be distracted.
  • Tell your friend about your concerns
    • Be honest. Tell your friend about your worries about her or his not eating or over exercising. Tell your friend you are concerned and that you think these things may be a sign of a problem that needs professional help.
  • Ask your friend to talk to a professional
    • Your friend can talk to a counselor or doctor who knows about eating issues. Offer to help your friend find a counselor or doctor and make an appointment, and offer to go with her or him to the appointment.
  • Avoid conflicts
    • If your friend won't admit that she or he has a problem, don't push. Be sure to tell your friend you are always there to listen if she or he wants to talk.
  • Don't place shame, blame, or guilt on your friend
    • Don't say, "You just need to eat." Instead, say things like, "I'm concerned about you because you won't eat breakfast or lunch." Or, "It makes me afraid to hear you throwing up."
  • Don't give simple solutions
    • Don't say, "If you'd just stop, then things would be fine!"
  • Let your friend know that you will always be there no matter what.

Adapted from "What Should I Say? Tips for Talking to a Friend Who May Be Struggling with an Eating Disorder" from the National Eating Disorders Association.

Other useful links regarding Anorexia

  • Anorexia Overview
    • People with anorexia nervosa see themselves as overweight even though they are dangerously thin. Read more about Anorexia.
  • What happens to your body with Anorexia?
    • Read about what happens to your body with Anorexia. See what happens with such things as hair, your muscles and joints, skin, hormones, and intestines with anorexia.
  • Who becomes Anorexic?
    • An estimated 0.5 to 3.7 percent of people suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime. Learn about other statistics on who becomes anorexic.
  • What causes Anorexia?
    • There is no single known cause of anorexia. But some causes of anorexia include, culture, family, biology, personality and stressful life events or changes.
  • Prognosis and Treatment for Anorexia
    • Read about Anorexia treatment, which may include individual therapy, family therapy, neurofeedback or medicine.
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