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How Eating Disorders Affect Others

written by: Erin281982 • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 7/14/2010

Eating disorders effects on others can impact relationships and friendships in a negative way. They can cause strains on marriages and fractious parent and child relationships.

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    Eating Disorders Effects on Others

    Many people wrongly assume that when someone has an eating disorder the only person affected by the condition is the sufferer. However, eating disorders have an effect on many different people both young and old alike.

    Parents who have children suffering from eating disorders may feel as though they have done something to cause their child to develop the problem, while friends of those with eating disorders may feel lost as they struggle to help their friend. These feelings can have a negative impact on not only the person with the disorder but the entire family and his or her social grouping. Here is a look at the reality of eating disorders effects on others.

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    Negative Feelings and Their Effect on Relationships with Family Members

    Two of the most common feelings family members, particularly parents and caretakers, have is blame and guilt once they find out their child is suffering from an eating disorder.

    There is a misconception that one develops an eating disorder due to pressure from a parent to look a certain way, be a certain way or that they are brought up in a negative environment. The reality is that many people who develop eating disorders come from average homes with very loving parents.

    Even though parents may have the reassurance from others that they have done nothing wrong, they may still feel as though they are somehow responsible. Parents may even get angry at their children and wonder why they cannot be "normal". Mistrust is often another feeling that is felt because often the person with the eating disorder will do things to cause their parents to lose trust in them such as lying, stealing or other deceitful behaviors.

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    Eating Disorders and Their Effects on Marriages

    Most people assume eating disorders are only found in those who are in their teens or early 20s, but sadly they can affect people of all ages including those who are married and have children.

    A spouse who is married to someone suffering from an eating disorder may feel many of the same feelings that parents feel. They want their lives to return to "normal" and often feel upset that their spouse simply cannot overcome this condition. In addition to feeling upset they may feel ashamed that they did not notice their spouse's condition before, and wonder how long they have had their eating disorder. This may lead to feelings of mistrust in all areas of the marriage.

    Children of those who have eating disorders may be confused and even embarrassed about their parent's behavior. Sadly the parent's eating disorder may even pass onto a child. When a child sees their parent never eating or having a negative reaction to their weight they may begin to think there is something "wrong" with them as well. It can quickly turn into a vicious cycle if the parent does not get help soon.

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    Overcoming the Effects of Eating Disorders

    Overcoming eating disorders effects on others is a long, hard process that takes time and work. Both parties must be willing to work at being able to repair relationships. Some relationships are strong enough to handle the stresses, but sadly others do not.

    Typically once an individual has overcome their eating disorder, or is in the process of healing, their doctor will recommend counseling. Many people have found that family or group counseling is an excellent way to help repair relationships, so that all parties can live normal, healthy lives once again.

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    References

    National Eating Disorders.org