4 Ways To Get Help for Your Loved One
A hard truth is that a person struggling with an eating disorder is often blind to the illness. This is true particularly if that person has body image issues or body distortions, common symptoms of anorexia and bulimia. Therefore, it can be difficult to share what you are observing with your loved one.
Eating disorders are behavioral disorders. You cannot talk, reason or argue someone out of it. This is true for virtually all eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. We know this from research and clinical experience.
What does work well is compassion, understanding, and love. Your job is to share, that you want your love one to be happy and healthy.
From a practical perspective, the only way to accomplish this is to encourage them to get an assessment.
It’s important to express that your desire for getting checked out comes from a place of compassion and understanding. Work towards an assessment, rather than trying to automatically label a loved one as ill. Once your loved one has had an assessment, it becomes easier for professionals to take over the role of encouraging treatment.
Here are the essential guidelines:
1. Avoid arguing and trying to reason with your loved one
2. Show your compassion and understanding
3. Encourage an assessment
4. Work with the treatment team to help your loved one make behavioral changes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Warren, MD
Mark Warren is the chief medical officer of The Emily Program. He is also one of the original founders of the Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders, which became The Emily Program – Cleveland in 2014. A Cleveland native, he is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Medical School and completed his residency at Harvard Medical School. He served as Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Mt. Sinai Hospital and Medical Director of University Hospital Health System’s Laurelwood Hospital. A past vice-chair for clinical affairs at the Case School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, he continues on the Clinical Faculty of the Medical School, teaching in both the Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics. He is currently a faculty member and former chair of the Board of Governors at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. Dr. Warren is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a two-time recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award of the national Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and a winner of the Woodruff Award. He leads the Males and Eating Disorders special interest group for the Academy of Eating Disorders.