How to Help a Loved One With Anorexia

If you are unsure if a loved one is suffering from Anorexia, an important first step is to recognize the most common symptoms. Popular culture has somewhat distorted common symptoms of Anorexia that are not always that obvious. Here are some of the key things to pay attention to.

• Rapid or dramatic weight loss
• Wearing multiple layers of baggy clothes
• Always says they feel “fat”
• Concerned with eating in public
• Loss of menstrual period
• Withdrawn from friends and family
• Constantly rearranges food on the plate
• Denies feeling hungry

• Difficulty concentrating
• Frequent stomach cramps
• Purging/vomiting
• Feels cold all the time
• Excess small, fine hair on body
• Thinning hair on head
• Yellow skin
• Poor wound healing

The above list is not comprehensive. It includes early indicators that you should take a step further in helping your loved one.

The next step is to get someone to see a professional. Professionals have specific training that allows them to properly diagnose Anorexia. For you, the loved one, the task is challenging. At first, you want to make sure you do not just bring up the symptoms and tell them you think they have an eating disorder. This will often result in your loved one going on the defensive right away. Instead, a better approach is to come at it from an angle of how much you care about them and truly have concern for their overall health and happiness. Make sure they know anything you do is only because you care so much about them. Don’t take it too far, you just want the first step to be that they agree to see someone.

Someone with an issue like this will normally admit to one part of it. So maybe you approach it as “you seem to be more tired lately and I’m concerned that you are not getting proper sleep.” Most people would probably be able to admit “yeah, I’m not really sleeping all that well I guess.” When that happens, that gets the discussion going in the right direction. Hopefully, enough to the point where you can get them to a professional who is experienced in moving the discussion forward.

This is not intended to be a diagnosis guide or an all-encompassing list of symptoms. Instead, this is intended to give loved ones some information on signs of Anorexia and how they might approach the topic.

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