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truecomedian's avatar

How do you help someone with anorexia?

Asked by truecomedian (3932points) September 15th, 2010

Better yet, how does someone with anorexia help themselves?

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7 Answers

Ben_Dover's avatar

Give ‘em a cheeseburger and fries with a chocolate shake immediately. Continue treatment three times a day until fattened up.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

You help by hooking them up with the mental health services in your area.

cazzie's avatar

@hawaii_jake got it right. It’s more deadly than depression. Help, professional help, NOW. The sooner the intervention the more successful the recovery.

marinelife's avatar

This site gives a lot of detailed advice. It is important to talk to them:

” Tips for Talking about an Eating Disorder

* Communicate your concerns. Share your memories of specific times when you felt concerned about the person’s eating or exercise behaviors. Explain that you think these things may indicate that there could be a problem that needs professional attention.
* Avoid conflicts or a battle of the wills. If the person refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem, or any reason for you to be concerned, restate your feelings and the reasons for them and leave yourself open and available as a supportive listener.
* Avoid placing shame, blame, or guilt on the person regarding their actions or attitudes. Do not use accusatory “you” statements like, “You just need to eat.” Or, “You are acting irresponsibly.” Instead, use “I” statements. For example: “I’m concerned about you because you refuse to eat breakfast or lunch.” Or, “It makes me afraid to hear you vomiting.”
* Avoid giving simple solutions. For example, “If you’d just stop, then everything would be fine!”

Aside from offering support, the most important thing you can do for a person with an eating disorder is to encourage treatment.”

wundayatta's avatar

Anorexia is an addiction and a mental illness. I suppose it’s strange to call it an addiction when you are denying yourself food, but it is like an addiction in that it is a behavior that the anorexic returns to again and again because it make her or him high. They feel a rush when they have managed to keep themselves from giving in to their urges all day long.

They are, of course, in pain. The pain could come from anywhere, but it usually makes the person feel like nothing. It is a pain that they self-medicate for by creating a countering pain in their bellies. Anorexia also has a genetic component, and it is related to other mental illnesses, genetically.

Therapy can help them in many ways. It can help them reprogram themselves. It can help them understand where the pain comes from. It can help them fight the disorder.

For all I know, there may be meds that can help them break the behavior, by manipulating brain chemistry in a way similar to the way people with other mental disorders are treated.

Helping them is difficult and probably consists mostly of encouraging them to check into a clinic to get help. Let them know you care about them and love them. Do things with them. Encourage them to do things out in the world. I’m not sure about encouraging them to exercise, since that can be a way they punish themselves.

Let them know you care. Over and over.

truecomedian's avatar

I asked this for very personal reasons. I was in a car accident when I was five, a very bad one, and I sustained a significant brain injury. I hit the window hard enough to leave glass embedded in my head. After that my parents noticed I had stopped eating, and when they asked me why I said cause “I was fat”. Odd that a kid that age would feel that way, dontcha think? It’s still a problem. I’m underweight. I barely have any energy to do stuff, I only recently started to seek help. It’s tough because usually this condition is woman in their teens. Thanks for the advice everyone.

wundayatta's avatar

They say that it isn’t enough to just have a genetic predisposition for something. You also need an environmental factor that causes the predisposition to kick in. The car accident caused brain damage. That sure seems like a good candidate for such a thing. Also, the brain damage itself could have changed the chemistry of your mind in undesirable ways. There’s no way to know these things today. Maybe in the future they’ll figure it out.

Seeking help is a great start! I can understand that people might not conceive of a male having anorexia, but it happens more than people think, particularly among gymnasts, I think. I hope you can find an understanding mental health practitioner who can lead you through this. That you’ve decided it’s a problem is an enormous step. Enormous.

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