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Advice for families that live with a patient with an ED:
Listen attentively and patiently to the person and try to put yourself in their place without judging them.
Show concern for their health, both physical and mental, and ask them how they feel and what can you do to help them.
Show understanding about their feelings and suffering when these are shared.
Avoid discussions about food, health and physical appearance/weight.
Follow the guidelines that the therapists have given as regards how their meals should be, and not negotiate them.
Create a friendly atmosphere during and after meals, and look for distractions to alleviate the anxiety that eating or feeling full generates.
Be patient, because the recovery is slow, and don’t demand more than that agreed with the therapist.
Cheer them up about what the treatment implies and reinforce small progresses.
Avoid giving simplistic advice, although it may have a good intention it can make the person not feel understood.
Plan activities together and don’t give up, despite the person wishing to be alone and not take part.
Be aware that the family environment is often the target of negative reactions, and it should not be taken as something personal. When the patient has recovered more, they will appreciate them having remained by their side.
Take breathing spaces, and take care of yourself, as energy and strength are needed to be able to provide support to the patient.
Don’t blame yourself, as it is a disorder due to many causes.
Inés Hilker SalinasPsychologistDepartment of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Itziar Flamarique ValenciaChild PsychiatristDepartment of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
María CaballeroNurseDepartment of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Published: 14 January 2019
Updated: 14 January 2019
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