Living with a person who has an eating disorder

Watching a person suffer from an eating disorder can be painful, worrying and emotional. It can be a rollercoaster ride, and you could be feeling: 

  • confused
  • frustrated
  • sad
  • angry
  • ashamed
  • numb
  • worried.

These feelings may be directed at both the sufferer and the illness. You may be feeling guilty because of these thoughts and feelings, it is perfectly understandable to feel and think like this at times. You want the best for your son/daughter, friend or family member, it can be difficult to understand and frustrating, why they have this illness. Sometimes you may even feel that the illness is self-inflicted and that they should just sort themselves out.

Sometimes people feel ashamed at having someone they know and love experience an eating disorder or feel that they are to blame in some way. They can feel lonely because there is no-one there to understand their situation.

What is family and carer involvement?

It’s important to have a family member or carer involved in a person’s eating disorder recovery. The earlier help and support is obtained, there is a better chance of a person’s recovery. Family and carer support can help to prevent things from becoming worse. Family and carer involvement is a way of working with family members to help understand and deal more effectively with difficulties that their loved ones may be experiencing.

How we can help?

You will be offered the opportunity to have contact with a family and carer intervention practitioner, who will offer you a chance to talk and help you to understand and cope with an eating disorder illness.

We will talk to you about:

  • the role of a carer
  • tips in how you can help
  • looking after yourself as a carer
  • carer support groups. 

Appointments will be offered by mutual arrangement. We will help to give you reassurance and support and will talk to you about any concerns that you may have.


All information is confidential and shared only with health professionals who need to know.


Reference: L642

Version: v2

Date last updated: 01/2017

Archive date: 01/2020