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Importance of Support Groups

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For someone facing a major eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, support groups can be an important part of the treatment process.

While a support group can help a person better cope with his or her particular eating disorder, support groups should not replace standard medical care with a doctor or other healthcare practitioner.

Support Group Defined

A basic definition of a support group is a gathering of people who share a common medical condition who meet regularly to discuss living with their particular condition. People attend support groups in order to seek advice, coping tips and emotional support from other people who are familiar with what they are going through.

While most people may think that support groups only meet face-to-face, these days many support groups can be conducted via the Internet or over the phone.


In support groups, people can identify with others because they are experiencing similar problems. Participation in support groups may help people feel less lonely or isolated, find ways to improve their coping skills, gain a sense of empowerment or find a place where they can talk openly and honestly about their thoughts and feelings. Others may gain practical advice or information about treatment options for their particular medical issue.

How to Find a Support Group

Finding a support group is not usually very difficult. Following are several ways a person can find a find support group:

  • Ask your doctor or other healthcare practitioner for recommendations.
  • Search the Internet for online support groups as well as in-person groups.
  • Patient advocacy groups such as the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disorders (ANAD) are good places to go to find support groups.
  • Contact your local hospital to see if they hold support groups.