Getting Help With Anorexia
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Young woman with anorexia Anorexia nervosa, commonly referred to as anorexia, is a serious eating disorder in which a person has a distorted body image and does not maintain a healthy weight. It can have life-threatening consequences if not treated appropriately.

Help for anorexia is available. However, people who have a family member or friend with anorexia may not know how to talk to the person or how to choose between treatment options. Many times, a person with anorexia will deny they have a problem.

This article will cover how to get help for anorexia, including:

Understanding Anorexia

Anorexia is an eating disorder in which the person loses more weight than is considered healthy for their age and height.Those with anorexia take extreme measures to control their weight. They avoid or restrict food, constantly weigh themselves, excessively exercise, and try to rid themselves of excess calories through vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.1,2

Signs and Symptoms

To be diagnosed with anorexia, a person must:2

Common signs that someone may have anorexia include:2,3


The exact cause of anorexia is unknown. But certain factors may lead a person to develop it, such as:

Anorexia, like other eating disorders, most often begins during the adolescent or young adult years and is more common in females. Other risk factors include:2

Having a risk factor does mean that a person will develop an eating disorder. The person does, however, have a greater possibility of developing one.

Anorexia is very difficult to overcome alone. If you believe you or someone you know may have anorexia, call  to get more information about treatment options. Is your relationship with food causing distress? An Eating Disorder Test can provide helpful insights.

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Where to Get Help for Anorexia

Man getting help for anorexia The right anorexia treatment program for a person depends on needs, symptoms, and the severity of the disorder, as well as the length of the illness. Below is a brief list of possible treatment options.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient anorexia treatment is provided in a facility with 24/7 medical support and monitoring. Many programs offer individual counseling and group therapy, nutritional counseling, and family therapy. The length of stay will vary depending on the individual and the severity of their eating disorder.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient anorexia treatment allows the person to attend regularly scheduled treatment sessions at a recovery center or therapist’s office and then either return home, go to work, or carry out other daily responsibilities outside of treatment hours.

Nutritional Counseling

In inpatient or outpatient programs, a healthcare provider will likely work with or make a referral to a nutritional counselor, who can help the person to better understand healthy eating habits and how to develop a realistic nutrition plan.


Providers may prescribe medications in an inpatient or outpatient setting. Medications can treat symptoms associated with anorexia as well as any comorbid illnesses, such as depression and anxiety.

Common medications used for anorexia include:

If you need help choosing a program, call  to be connected to a caring advisor who can help you navigate treatment options.

Deciding Between Anorexia Treatment Options

When you’re ready to get help for anorexia, spend some time exploring the different treatment options available.

Some factors to consider when choosing a program include:

How to Talk to Someone with Anorexia

Woman talking to someone with anorexia It can be difficult—even daunting—to help someone with anorexia. Often, the most difficult part of treating anorexia is getting the person to recognize that they have a problem. Denial is a key part of any eating disorder, and it may be difficult to convince someone to get treatment.

The key is to be kind, supportive, and respectful.

Here are some recommendations for how to talk to someone with anorexia:6

Helping Someone with Anorexia

Helping someone with anorexia includes supporting them as well as taking care of yourself. Once they’ve decided to seek treatment, you can do a number of things to aid their recovery. Just make sure you set boundaries and don’t allow their recovery to consume your life.

Finding Anorexia Treatment for a Friend or Family Member

If you need additional guidance finding help for anorexia, call us today at . We’re available 24/7 to assist you. Worried about anxiety? Take an online anxiety quiz to learn more and get the help you need.

We provide 100% confidential support by caring advisors who can help you navigate the services and supports available in your area.

Read next: Anorexia Causes, Symptoms, and Effects


[1]. National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Eating Disorders.

[2]. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2016). Anorexia Nervosa.

[3]. National Institute of Mental Health. (2014).  Eating Disorders: About More than Food.

[4]. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2016). Anorexia.

[5]. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Anorexia Nervosa Fact Sheet.

[6]. National Eating Disorders Association. (n.d.). What should I say?

[7]. National Eating Disorders Association. (2015). Parental toolkit version 3.0.