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How an Eating Disorder can Affect Your Family

written by: Erin281982 • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 9/13/2010

Affects of eating disorders on the family of those living with eating disorders. What affects eating disorders generally have on family members and how they can be dealt with effectively and successfully.

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    There is a large emphasis on how eating disorders can affect the person living with the condition however, not much information is available on the affects of eating disorders on the family members. Many people take for granted the fact that most family members will just be able to accept their loved ones condition without it changing anything however the sad truth is when someone suffers from an eating disorder it can affect everyone. If you are suffering from an eating disorder here is a look at the common affects of eating disorders on the family.

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    A Negative Impact

    Whether the one who has the eating disorder is someone's daughter, son, sister, brother, mother or even dad there will be affects on the whole family once they learn of their family member's eating disorder. One common way eating disorders have an impact is by developing trust issues. Often those who have eating disorders will turn to deceitful ways to hide their condition whether it is due to the fact that they are embarrassed or if they are afraid their family is going to try to stop them. This mistrust can lead to the whole family feeling betrayed by their loved one and feeling as though they will not be able to trust them again.

    Anger is another negative affect that comes to many families of those who have eating disorders. They may feel frustrated and angry at the fact that their loved one is not "normal". They may also feel angry because they feel as though they have been lied to. Another reason for the anger may include them feeling angry at the fact that they are not able to "fix" their loved one or make their eating disorder disappear.

    Negative affects such as denial and worry may also cause stressful relationships with everyone in the family. Family members may think that eating disorders are just not something that happens in their family or they may be embarrassed by their loved ones' condition. The worry may cause them to lash out not only at their loved one with the eating disorder but other family members as well.

    Lastly feelings of guilt are another affect of eating disorders on family members of those who have eating disorders. Family members will feel guilty because they are not able to provide the right help their loved one needs to overcome their condition or they may feel as though they are somehow responsible for their loved one developing an eating disorder.

    All of these negative feelings may affect family members in serious ways such as causing them to become depressed, ruining relationships including marriages which may lead to the separation or divorce. This can be devastating to spouses and any children they may have.

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    Successful Ways to Deal with the Affects of Eating Disorders on Family Members

    There are ways to successfully and effectively deal with the way eating disorders can affect family members. One of the most effective ways is with the help of support groups. There are many online and local support groups that specifically deal with helping family members of those who have eating disorders. Family members may find it beneficial to join or visit one of these support groups as they may help family members by showing them they are not alone in how they are feeling.

    Lastly family therapy and counseling may be the best way to help family members deal with the affects of the eating disorders. Educated professionals will be able to help guide family members through this difficult time and help them make it through while supporting their loved one without there being permanent damage to relationships.

    Sources Cited: http://www.casapalmera.com/articles/can-a-negative-family-atmosphere-contribute-to-development-of-an-eating-disorder/, http://helpguide.org/mental/binge_eating_disorder.htm