Eating Disorders – guidance for family members

Eating Disorders – guidance for family members

Laura Chapman, a writer and editor specializing in articles on mental health and well-being, has gathered helpful information for families who suspect, or maybe don’t suspect, that an eating disorder has developed in their midst:

Most parents think that they could easily detect if their child were to develop an eating disorder yet all too often, a diagnosis is made later than it could be, owing to a lack of visible symptoms. Scientists have discovered that there are more eating disorders than the most commonly known (anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa). More recent categories include binge eating disorder (in which a person feels compelled to binge but does not necessarily purge) and OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder, in which a person can display symptoms, yet fail to fall within one of the established categories). While extreme weight loss will usually accompany anorexia nervosa, other eating disorders can be difficult to spot, since children and teens (and adults) can be quite adept at hiding issues like purging, excessive exercise, or weight loss. The case is even worse for males, who are often misdiagnosed owing to the mistaken perception that eating disorders are an exclusively female problem. Males often take longer to seek help because they do not know where to turn or because they feel ashamed.

If your child or family member has just been diagnosed with an eating disorder, the first step to take is to forget about blame; research indicates that these disorders can have a variety of causes, including genetic ones. Moreover, they are often accompanied by other conditions (for instance, depression and/or anxiety). The focus should be on ensuring that your child or family member receives help from qualified doctors, nutritionists and therapists, and that the whole family unit works together to help their family member regain lost weight and build a healthy relationship with food. Your loved one may need inpatient or outpatient treatment, through counseling and family therapy will also help them overcome this difficult time in their lives.

Recently, Laura has helped to research and put together this guide for parents of children and adolescents who suffer from eating disorders. You can read it here.

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