National Eating Disorders Association

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Help and advice

My friend is suffering, im not sure if its an ed but theyre not eating. Its not that they dont want to but its more that they cant. They try and eat but end up thr*wing it up (sorry if thats a trigger). Theyve tried eating a range of different things and theyre still drinking water but its been a while since they last ate properly. Im worried. Theyre tires, cold, weak and losing body mass quicker than theyre gaining it. Ive tried to help them and support them but nothing seems to work and now they dont really want my help. Im determined to help though because i know they would do the same. Ive tried googling and im desperate. Please tell me the besr way i can help them before its too late. Thank you


Hi Sumbody, thank you for posting. Welcome to the forums, we’re so glad you’re here.We understand that how difficult and scary this can be, and you are doing a great job by looking for more information to best help and support your friend. We encourage you to visit the NEDA page on How to Help a Loved One for help on how to talk with your friend about eating disorders and how to encourage them to seek professional help. You also mentioned that your friend is experiencing some physical symptoms and we want to make you aware of concerning symptoms that require immediate medical attention:

  • accidentally or deliberately caused themselves a physical injury
  • become suicidal
  • confused thinking and is not making any sense
  • delusions (false beliefs) or hallucinations (experiencing things that aren’t there)
  • disoriented; doesn’t know what day it is, where they are or who they are
  • vomiting several times a day or has uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea
  • experiencing dizziness or fainting spells
  • too weak to walk or collapses
  • painful muscle spasms
  • experience pain in the lower legs
  • complaining of chest pain or having trouble breathing
  • blood in their bowel movements, urine or vomit
  • a body mass index (BMI) of less than 16
  • an irregular heartbeat, and fast heartbeat, or very low heart beat (less than 50 beats per minute)
  • cold or clammy skin indicating a low body temperature or has a body temperature of less than 35 degrees Celsius/95 degrees Fahrenheit
  • experience dizziness, nausea, fever
  • wounds/cuts heal slowly
  • feel tingling in the hands or feet
  • blurred vision

If they experience anything above, we highly recommend seeking help from a medical professional as soon as possible. Seek medical help soon on an outpatient basis if they experience the following:

  • have significant heartburn and/or a burning sensation after eating
  • have other gastrointestinal concerns
  • have high blood pressure
  • struggle with significant joint or muscle pain
  • have difficulty sleeping (falling and/or remaining asleep)
  • struggle with fatigue, sudden weight gain, and/or hair loss
  • have frequent urination or unquenchable thirst
  • have gained and lost significant weight repeatedly
  • have gained significant weight in a short period of time
  • struggle with chronic diarrhea or constipation

You can also reach out to our confidential NEDA Helpline at 800.931.2237 M-Th 11am-9pm ET and F 11am-5pm ET, or you can chat with us online M-Th 9am-9pm ET and F 9am-5pm ET. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and continue posting - you are not alone.

Dear Sumbody...

Yes, this sounds both puzzling and concerning. People with bulimia throw up on purpose, and are glad to expel their food. But your friend is not telling you that. She seems to be telling you that she's not doing it on purpose at all.

Of course it's possible that she's not being truthful with you, and want's you and others to think that it's all a big mystery to her. But if it is something medical, you'd think she'd be seeing a doctor about it, just like anyone would. The fact that she seems to reject your concern is kind of odd too.

You would also think that her parents would be concerned, if she's still living with them, I mean ?

As it is now, I'd be asking her why she's not seeing a doctor, if indeed she finds her situation to be worrisome. Because as with yourself, it sounds worrisome to me.

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