Chances are someone you know has an eating disorder and “Everybody knows somebody,” was the theme of the recent National Eating Disorders Awareness week (NEDAwareness Week.) It’s reported that 50% of all Americans know someone struggling with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder.
We, like all of those in the eating disorder treatment community, want this week to be a launching point, where people just like you can turn knowledge into power. We want people to take action, begin a dialogue with the individual that they care about with the hope of very possibly saving their lives. Every year, thousands of people die from eating disorders and thousands more suffer in silence. It’s definitely time for that to change.
As a society, we need to learn as much as possible about eating disorders so we can begin to approach our friend or loved one with the confidence that information provides, in opposition to mere speculation about a possible disorder. It’s important to choose a non-stressful time and find a quiet place and to speak from the heart; tell them of your love and concern, not just about their weight, but other behavioral changes you have observed. Don’t be surprised if they don’t take the news well – it’s all part of the secretive nature of eating disorders.
Offer to help them in any way possible by researching therapists or or finding support groups that might help like the ones on DailyStrength
. Assure them that confidentiality will always be maintained and you will offer support when it is time to speak to their parents and family, which is a critical aspect of the process. A recent post on the Timberline Knolls Treatment Blog provides an in-depth overview
and guide for individuals with eating disorders and their parents.
Approaching someone you think has an eating disorder is never easy. Keep in mind that talking about it can be a life changer, and you never know when you may be the one that gives someone the strength to take action. Recovery from an eating disorder is possible. There is hope and effective treatment available.
- Dr. Kim Dennis
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