Family members often struggle with understanding eating disorders.

Eating Disorders and Relationships

With best intentions, misunderstandings and difficulty accepting seeing a family member starve or hurt themselves, often contributes to family power struggles and the individual with the eating disorder viewing family members as controlling, intrusive.

According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT)”

Eating disorders may develop if a person has no other way to speak or represent feelings. Frequently family dynamics, problematic communication patterns, losses, or stresses like abuse have contributed to negative feelings the person could not deal with directly. It is never a simple matter that can be solved by just telling the person to eat. The symptoms have become the individual’s way to avoid facing problems more directly or are an attempt to feel in control when the rest of life feels out of control.

Eating disorders can exist on a spectrum from mild to life threatening. Without proper treatment and therapy from an eating disorder therapist, they rarely go away on their own. As with many mental health conditions, getting help is often viewed as a stigma; a weakness and many resist coming to therapy for many years after the initial symptoms arise. Family member involvement in treatment is key to building long term solutions that result in changing systemic, behavioral patterns that inadvertently contribute to and maintain the eating disordered behavior.

If you or your family members are dealing with an eating disorder, please don’t hesitate to request an appointment at Oregon Counseling today and meet with a therapist in Portland, Corvallis, Eugene and Bend.