How to Convince My Daughter to Get Help for Anorexia?

By February 20, 2013

I believe my 19 year old daughter is anorexic, but when I confront her, she completely denies any disorder. I am so afraid for her, but I really do not know how to convince her to get help. Is there such a thing as forcing her to get help? Or does she need to get to the place where she wants it for herself before the help will be effective? I am afraid to let this go on. She does not live at home (she has an apartment with a friend while in college) so I do not see her but once a week or so, and she is so skinny, it frightens me. I also see a lot of sadness in her eyes and I sense depression could be playing a big role as well.

Dear Anonymous,

Wow! The heart and cry of a mother! I read that you love your daughter fully and you want her to cease doing anything that is harming her. But she is an adult, she lives independently, and does not seem open to your concern and/or care on the topic.

My immediate word to you is this: “The only person you can control is YOU.” You are afraid. You are worried. You feel helpless. You sense she is depressed.

So, perhaps it would be helpful if you role modeled to your daughter the resources available when you need help by getting your own therapist to help you manage your feelings about her. While you do not announce, “I am in therapy because you are anorexic,” you will establish a safe place to process your feelings and gain insight into next steps.

You can discuss with a professional who specializes in eating disorders how to maintain relationship, what boundaries and/or limits you might want to set or not set, and how to confront and acknowledge and coach your child towards health. See “Finding Treatment” for more information.

Peace and hope to you and your daughter.