Anorexia nervosa is a disorder in which a person loses weight and maintains a weight lower than normally expected. Often (but not always) people who develop anorexia nervosa become preoccupied with thoughts about dieting and other methods of weight loss (such as exercise). Foods containing fat are typically avoided. Frequently, people with anorexia nervosa do not see themselves as having a disorder and sometimes feel frustrated or angry with family, friends, or colleagues who express concern.

What can be done if someone doesn't want help?

In some circumstances, people with anorexia nervosa will refuse to accept help. Often, this is because the illness causes them to panic at the thought of increasing their weight or changing their eating behaviour. Most often, the best thing to do is to be persistent and respectful in approaching the person with anorexia nervosa in this situation. At times, it is necessary to insist on treatment in order to prevent serious medical disaster or death. This should be done in conjunction with doctors and other health professionals who are experienced in approaching this situation

Elliot Goldner, MD, 
in association with the MediResource Clinical Team