Helping a Loved One With Anorexia

Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center provides comprehensive care for women and girls who are struggling with anorexia nervosa. Timberline Knolls delivers compassionate, comprehensive treatment so that the journey to healing from anorexia can begin.

Learn More About Anorexia Nervosa

Learn how to help a loved one suffering from anorexia nervosa

If someone that you care about has been struggling with anorexia nervosa, you may be worried, confused, or even frustrated. Please know that these emotions are completely normal and perfectly understandable. Anorexia is a complex, and its effects are not limited to the women and girls who develop the disorder.

However, as you are processing your emotions and trying to find the best path forward, please do not give in to a sense of helplessness. Although you cannot cure your loved one, you can play an important role in getting her the professional care that she needs.

Education is an essential tool in the battle against anorexia. Information can replace fear of the unknown with hope for positive outcomes. No matter how worried you may be right now, please don’t lose sight of the fact that you have hope. With proper professional care, your daughter, mother, sister, friend, or other loved one can overcome this challenge.

Take the time to educate yourself about the signs, symptoms, and effects of anorexia nervosa. Visit reputable websites or consult with anorexia support groups in your area. The more you understand about how anorexia is impacting your loved one’s mind and body, the better prepared you will be to provide meaningful support.

Of course, it’s also important to understand that each woman or girl who develops anorexia will be impacted in a unique way. Your research won’t provide you with a definitive picture of exactly what your loved one is experiencing, but it will provide you with valuable insights. These insights will help you to have important conversations with your loved one.

Talk to Your Loved One

Prepare for the conversation about getting treatment for anorexia

Research can only take you so far in your efforts to understand what your loved one is experiencing. Your next step will involve talking to your loved one.

We understand that, at first, the thought of talking about anorexia can be intimidating, but this is a necessary and valuable step. Effective communication will benefit both you and your loved one. She will know that she has your love and support, and you will be better prepared to help.

When preparing to have a conversation about anorexia, don’t forget that it’s just as important for you to listen. Your loved one’s willingness (or hesitance) to discuss what she’s dealing with can guide your next steps.

For example, if she is open about her struggles, and acknowledges that she needs help, you can work together to find the solutions that she needs. On the other hand, if she refuses to admit that there’s a problem, or claims that this is something she can work through on her own, then you’ll know that you need to pursue an alternate course of action.

Though you have your loved one’s best interests at heart, understand that her disease may prompt her to respond with denials or even anger. Prepare for these negative reactions, and do not allow your discussion to descend into an argument.

The dynamics of this conversation may vary depending upon your relationship with your loved one. For example, talking to your mother about anorexia nervosa will present different challenges than trying to help your sister, daughter, partner, or other person of significance. However, as long as you approach this effort with proper preparation, an open mind, and a compassionate heart, you can accomplish great things.

Regardless of how your initial talk goes, remember that this will need to be an ongoing conversation. Keep the lines of communication open, reiterate your love and support, and leave no doubt in your loved one’s mind that you care about her.

Should You Stage an Intervention?

Consider an intervention for a loved one suffering from anorexia nervosa

Although anorexia causes dramatic physical symptoms, it’s essential to remember that it is a mental health disorder. Restrictive eating habits are just one manifestation of this disease. Another effect of anorexia is that it can cause girls and women to feel that they don’t need help, or that they’re not worthy of the effort that it may take to get better.

For this reason, your loved one may resist or rebuke any attempts to connect her with the professional care that she needs. This is clearly dangerous, and can complicate your efforts to help this obstacle can be overcome.

One technique that has helped convince people that they need help is called an intervention. You may have seen interventions on television or in films, often in stories that involve substance abuse and addiction. Unfortunately, in TV shows and movies, interventions are often staged for dramatic or comedic effects.

In its most basic form, an intervention is a small gathering of close friends or family members. The purpose is to show a united front, to demonstrate support, and to convince a person that professional help is needed.

Unlike what you may have seen in popular culture, an intervention is not a forum for accusations, demands, or ultimatums. Never lose sight of the fact that you are coming together to help a loved one in need.

Staging an intervention to help a girl or woman who has anorexia requires careful planning and a thoughtful approach. By no means should it be a spur-of-the-moment endeavor. You should conduct considerable research, and you may even want to involve a professional intervention specialist.

Timberline Knolls can provide you with information about how best to help someone recover from anorexia, starting with how to convince your loved one that she needs help.

With Help & Planning, You Can Succeed

Encourage your loved one to seek anorexia treatment

Getting professional help for anorexia nervosa can put your loved one on the path to a much healthier and more hopeful future. But therapy and other services are just part of the long process of recovery. Your loved one will need the continued active support of friends and family members throughout the entire experience.

As you may already realize, caring for a loved one who is struggling with anorexia can be an overwhelming experience. If at all possible, do not try to do this on your own. Enlist a small group of trusted friends and family members. This small group can work together to conduct research and help your loved one achieve successful recovery from anorexia. You can also be sources of support for each other.

You also need to be sure that you’re not neglecting your physical or mental health. If necessary, you should consider getting professional help for yourself. This will ensure that you’re managing stress properly, and that you’re processing your experiences in a healthy and productive manner. Remember, you cannot provide the best support for someone else unless you are taking care of yourself as well.

My experience with a nearly six week long stay here was very positive! I learned new behaviors to replace my old destructive ones and achieved sobriety here. All of which I have been able to continue because of my treatment at this facility! I highly recommend this place!

– A former resident
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