EATING DISORDERS: HELPING THE PERSON WITH AN EATING DISORDER

Treatment can save the life of someone with an eating disorder. Friends, relatives, teachers, and physicians all play an important role in helping the ill person start and stay with a treatment program. Encouragement, caring, and persistence, as well as information about eating disorders and their dangers, may be needed to convince the ill person to get help, stick with treatment, or try again.

Family members and friends can call local hospitals or university medical centers to find out about eating disorder clinics and clinicians experienced in treating the illnesses. For college students, treatment programs may be available in school counseling centers.

Family members and friends should read as much as possible about eating disorders, so they can help the person with the illness understand his or her problem. Many local mental health organizations and the self-help groups listed at the end of this brochure provide free literature on eating disorders. Some of these groups also provide treatment program referrals and information on local self-help groups. Once the person gets help, he or she will continue to need lots of understanding and encouragement to stay in treatment.

NIMH continues its search for new and better treatments for eating disorders. Congress has designated the 1990s as the Decade of the Brain, making the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of all brain and mental disorders a national research priority. This research promises to yield even more hope for patients and their families by providing a greater understanding of the causes and complexities of eating disorders.

5/28/98

Written by Lee Hoffman, Office of Scientific Information (OSI), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). An earlier version was prepared by OSI staff member Marilyn Sargent.

Scientific review was provided by NIMH staff Susan J. Blumenthal, M.D.; Harold Goldstein, Ph.D.; Harry E. Gwirtsman, M.D.; and Susan Z. Yanovski, M.D.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Public Health Service

National Institutes of Health
National Institute of Mental Health

NIH Publication No. 94-3477 Printed 1993

 

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