content supplied by
Watch a video about anorexia.
If a friend or relative has an eating disorder, you might want to encourage them to speak to someone about it. You could go with them for support if they want you to.
But there are other things you can do. You're already doing a great job by finding out how to help them. It shows you care.
You may have noticed that your friend has changed. They may no longer go out or want to be included in things.
Keep trying to include them, just like before. Even if they don’t join in, they will still like to be asked. It will make them feel valued as a person.
You can also try to build up their self-esteem, perhaps by telling them what a great person they are and how much you appreciate having them as a friend.
Try not to give advice or criticism. Give your time, and listen to them. Although, this can be tough when you don't agree with what they say about themselves and what they eat.
Remember, you don’t have to know all the answers. Just being there is what's important. This is especially the case when things are hard to cope with, particularly when it feels like your friendship, help and support are being rejected.
Treatment varies around the country, and different types of help may be offered depending on where you live. Treatment includes dealing with the emotional issues as well as the physical, but this must be done slowly so that your friend or relative is able to cope with the changes.
Treatment will involve your friend or relative talking to someone about the emotional difficulties that have led to their eating disorder. It will also explore their physical problems, general health and eating patterns. Help with eating and putting on weight is usually not enough.
The more actively your friend participates in the treatment programme, the better their chance of making a good recovery.
Will they have to go into hospital?
Most people with eating disorders are seen as outpatients (which means they visit the hospital, for example, one day a week). In severe cases, they might need to visit the hospital more often, or stay in hospital for more intensive support and treatment (known as inpatient care).
Should I visit them in hospital?
This depends on what your friend wants, how you feel and what the treatment centre allows. Let them know you're thinking of them and would like to visit them. If this is not possible, you can always write to them or call to let them know that you're still there to support them.
Can my friend be forced to get help?
If they have lost a lot of weight, they may be in danger of starving themselves and developing serious complications. In these circumstances they may not be able to think clearly, which may result in them refusing essential treatment and even life-sustaining food.
A doctor may decide to admit them for specialist treatment. This can only be done after the doctor has consulted colleagues, who have to agree with the doctor's decision. This is usually called being sectioned because it is done under the rules in one of the sections of the Mental Health Act.
Will they be cured when they come home?
Your friend will still need your support. Most people with an eating disorder do recover and learn to use more positive ways of coping. However, recovery from an eating disorder can be a very difficult process that can take a long time. Part of your friend may want to get better, while the other part might be very scared about giving up the eating disorder. They might think, “I want to get better, but just don’t want to gain weight”.
They will probably have good days and bad days and, during times of stress, the eating difficulties may return. Changing the way people think and feel is never easy and it takes time.
© Copyright 2001-2010 Newsquest Media Group