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My daughter is depressed and has an eating disorder

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Hi everyone,

I am hurting for my daughter. She is almost 16 years old and over the last couple years she has become more and more depressed and anxious. On top of that she maintains a low weight, does not get her period and has recently been diagnosed with and Eating Disorder NOS. When she has no stress in her life (summers) she seems to be a little less anxious though her mood can be all over the place. When she is in school (very demanding academically) she is in tears almost daily. It is heartbreaking for her dad and I.

She has a wonderful therapist who is an eating disorder specialist. She works with us as well as my daughter and we have a lot of faith in her. She recently referred us to a psychiatrist because my daughter is not sleeping at night, and the exhaustion is just adding to her problems. My daughter went to the appointment but absolutely refused any medication.

It is so frustrating to watch her become more and more miserable, and now refuse medication that could really help her. On top of that I am bipolar and my husband and I are recovering addicts. It is difficult not to blame ourselves. We just don't know where to turn next. It feels like we are doing everything we can but it is never enough. It is really scary when things just seem to be getting worse.:)

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi freefawl,

I understand your situation not only as a therapist but as a father who went through this when my daughter was 16. It lasted a long time, years, really.

First, you have to not blame yourself. It is very unclear what causes these eating disorders. There is evidence that it is based in genetics.

Second, you have to let go of the idea that you can make her eat or want to eat. You cannot. You have no control over that.

Third, her psychiatrist may prescribe an anti depressant medication. The problem is that, as these young women feel better and eat more, they become alarmed and stop the medication. Just be aware.

Four, keep seeing the therapist.

Five, it is possible that hospitalization will become necessary if her weight becomes dangerously low.

This is extremely painful for parents to go through.

How are you and your husband coping?


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Hi Allen,

Thank you for responding. I hope your daughter is doing well now. I am sorry you had to go through all this, but it is nice to talk to someone who understands.

My husband and I are different in how we cope. I also had, or have ( some of that body perception and fear of gaining weight never goes away) an eating disorder. I am a recovering anorexic bulimic. I am now seeing an adult eating disorder specialist to get a handle on the feelings my daughter's eating disorder brings up. She also offers suggestions on how to respond to my daughter.

My husband is angry and confused about my daughter's eating habits and body perception. We attend a group for parents of children with eating disorders lead by my daughter's therapist. It has been very helpful for both of us, and has changed my husbands attitude somewhat.

My daughter's therapist also works with us as a couple.

My daughter thankfully has maintained her weight though it is too low and as I mentioned, she does not have periods. She is weighed monthly by her medical doctor so any anger over not knowing the number is not directed toward the team treating her. She also sees a dietitian every couple of weeks.

Her therapist has not suggested an antidepressant so far, but did refer her to a psychiatrist for sleep aid. He suggested Seroquel. He also seemed suspicious that her mood swings may be an early sign of bipolar (much to my dismay). My daughter refused to take that or any medication flat out. Obviously we can not force her. Her lack of sleep, stress level and anxiety are interfering with her performance in school which further upsets her, so I am baffled s to why she refused help from this doctor.

It seems like a vicious circle with no end in sight, and no one is reassuring me that things will get better. I get the feeling that her therapist is as frustrated as we are, though she would never say so. The truth is that mu daughter is at an age where she can refuse treatment. I am just thankful that she is willing to see a therapist at all.

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  • 1 year later...

I read somewhere that anorexia is common in girls with Asperger's Syndrome, and that Asperger's is way more common in girls than previously thought... that it manifests itself differently from how it manifests in boys, and that consequently it's being missed!! Asperger's is on the autism spectrum, and I'm pretty sure it's genetic, from what I've read (I'm not a clinician of any sort, just someone who's interested in mental health, personality, and human development).

Your daughter may have refused meds because she's worried they'll make her fat. I know that anti-depressants make me gain weight, so I refuse to take them. Why add that misery to my other woes? When I went off Celexa I eventually lost the 40 lbs it made me gain. ^^;;

Of course you said your daughter hadn't refused anti-depressants, but maybe she's worried other meds might have the same effect. Just a thought.

In any case, you sound like an amazing person!! Your writing is terrific, and you and your family sound like you are really trying to help each other, and have all overcome amazingly difficult things.

I don't have any really helpful advice, I suppose, just a message of support. Good luck with everything! It's so scary to be young... I wouldn't be young again for anything.


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