You may have a lot of difficult feelings around finding help—it isn’t always an easy step to take. Many people who experience an eating disorder are scared to go into treatment because they may believe that they will have to gain weight. Many also feel a lot of shame or guilt around their illness, so the thought of talking about very personal experiences can seem overwhelming. Some people find comfort in their eating behaviours and are scared to find new ways to cope. Restricting food, bingeing, and purging can lead to serious health problems, but eating disorders are treatable and you can recover. A good support team can help you through recovery and teach important skills that last a lifetime.
Treatment for an eating disorder usually involves several different health professionals. Some people may need to spend time in hospital to treat physical health problems.
Counselling and Support
Counselling helps people work through problems and develop skills to manage problems in the future. There are different types of counselling, including cognitive-behavioural therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, and interpersonal therapy. The entire family may take part in counselling, particularly when a young person experiences an eating disorder.
It can be very helpful to connect with support groups. They’re an opportunity to share experiences and recovery strategies, find support, and connect with people who understand what you’re experiencing. There may also be support groups for family and friends affected by a loved one’s eating disorder.
There are many self-help strategies to try at home. Skills like problem-solving, stress management, and relaxation techniques can help everyone cope with challenges or problems in a healthy way. You’ll find many different skills like these in counselling, but you can practice them on your own, too. And it’s always important to spend time on activities you enjoy and connect with loved ones.
A dietitian or nutritionist can teach eating strategies and eating habits that support your recovery goals. This is also called ‘nutritional counselling.’
While there are no medications specifically for eating disorders, medication may help with the mood problems that often go along with an eating disorder.
Eating disorders can cause physical health problems, so you may need regular medical care and check-ups.
How can I help a loved one?
Supporting a loved one who experiences an eating disorder can be very challenging. Many people feel upset or even frightened by their loved one’s beliefs, behaviours, or state of well-being. An approach that focuses on support and understanding rather than control is best. Here are some tips to help you support a loved one:
Remember that eating disorders are a sign of much bigger problems. Avoid focusing on food or eating habits alone.
Be mindful of your own attitudes and behaviours around food and body image.
Never force someone to change their eating habits or trick someone into changing.
Avoid reacting to a loved one’s body image talk or trying to reason with statements that seem unrealistic to you.
If your loved one is an adult, remember that supporting help-seeking is a balance between your own concerns and their right to privacy.
If your loved one’s experiences are affecting other family members, family counselling may be helpful
Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and seek support for yourself.