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Using Support Groups to Treat Anorexia


One of the causes of anorexia is thought to be that it gives practitioners a sense of control in a life that is otherwise not meeting their expectations.

When this is coupled with depression and a feeling of being alone, talking to others with the disease can be very helpful. First, it opens up the idea that others share their problems. Second, it can show, for good or ill, how the condition progresses.

”Good or ill” means that most who attend a support group will meet some who are worse off than they are and others who have improved. It is one thing to read about how anorexia can progress into a live destroying condition and quite another to talk with someone who has direct experience.

An anorectic may reject help from a support group out of hand. This is at least in part because other members can see right through the lies and the defenses the anorectic has in place. Others with the condition know, in an intimate way, what’s happening in the anorectic’s head. This can feel uncomfortable or like an attack.

Even when advice is given in the spirit of kindness and support, some with the condition will shy away. At some level they know that sticking with a group will mean changing their behavior.

Some groups that can provide support for anorexia are:

  • Anorexia Forum at Support Groups. This is a posting and comment vehicle for anonymous advice and hope.
  • ANAD, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders has a state level directory of offline support groups at the link. They also run a forum at their site.
  • NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Association runs a helpline to find support groups for eating disorders, including anorexia.
  • Easiest of all – click a city link on our homepage and you’ll be directed to a treatment resource where you can ask for information on any available local support groups.