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      Effect of Eating Disorders on Family and Friends
      Eating disorders affect individuals and their families. The most affected are those who care the most. Communication within the family can break down completely with feelings of anger, fear, sadness, shame, and guilt.  People close to the individual do not know how to address the issue and feelings of guilt surface.  The illness can strain family relationships as the guilt overwhelms everyone involved.  Everyone close to the individual must accept that the disorder is not his or hers or anyone else’s fault, and it is futile to dwell on what could or should have been done. 

      Eating disorders are often coping mechanisms to deal with feelings of insecurity and their cry for help.  Family and friends can help by listening and being there for the individual.  Being nonjudgmental and empathetic will make you approachable and the individual may confide their insecurities with you.  The individuals often do not divulge their true emotions and feelings for fear of abandonment. 

      Anger, embarrassment, and withdrawal are all emotions that the individual will exhibit from time to time, but the family should not give up.  These emotions are used to hide their true feelings of fear and sense of loss of control over their lives.  The individual must realize you are patient with them and their symptoms. 

      Professional support is necessary to deal with the disorder and stop it from becoming deadly.  Just as the disorder did not develop in a single day, treatment is also a long drawn and painful process for everyone involved. Eating disorders can consume family relationships leading to depression and stress.