I Have Anxiety & An Eating Disorder And Therapy Isn't Helping Me

Published: September 23, 2013
Dear I Have Anxiety & An Eating Disorder And Therapy Isn't Helping Me,

I'm not really sure what to do anymore. I have an eating disorder, some days I eat really little and obsess over my weight, other days I cave and eat more, then I throw it all up. It's had its ups and downs for a few years now. I also have really bad anxiety. I've had it all my life, but it has recently become unbearable. It never goes away. I even wake up in the middle of the night with panic attacks. For a lot of years I was very resistant to counseling but I recently came around and I have been meeting with an eating disorder/anxiety specialist. She also believes depression could be to blame for some of my issues. A typical day for me consists of hating everything about myself, trying to eat as little as possible, throwing up, feeling sad, having anxiety, cutting myself, and just trying to get through the day. I've been having chest pains and I've been really exhausted from all of the anxiety. My life is entirely out of control. I'm already going to counseling though, back when I refused everyone used to talk like counseling was the magic fix to all my problems. It hasn't been though. Going to counseling honestly just adds to my anxiety. I also have suicidal thoughts that will not go away. I don't want to kill myself and I'm not planning on it, but the thoughts are very persistent. My parents don't acknowledge mental health so they are of no help. I'm 18, when I was in high school there were a few adults there that I really trusted, but other than that I have no one to talk to about it. I feel like I'm incredibly broken. My mind is killing me.

Dear I Have Anxiety & An Eating Disorder And Therapy Isn't Helping Me,

TeenHealthFX is sorry to hear that you have been struggling so much with these issues. We can appreciate how difficult this must be feeling for you. But we are pleased that you are meeting with a therapist. When dealing with issues like eating disorders, anxiety, self-cutting, depression, and suicidal thoughts, it is very important to have good mental health treatment in place.

Meeting with an experienced and reputable therapist, such as a clinical social worker or clinical psychologist, is a very important part of treatment with these kinds of issues. But sometimes individual therapy is not enough. If you find that your individual therapy is not helping you in the way that you need it to, FX recommends the following:

  • Schedule a consultation with a reputable psychiatrist experienced in working with adolescents so that you can be evaluated to see if you would benefit from taking some kind of psychotropic medication(s). There are various medications that can help with depression, anxiety and the compulsive behaviors often associated with eating disorders. Not only can medication help with these various symptoms, it can also help a person to be even more emotionally ready and available for the one-on-one therapy.
  • Speak to your therapist about a referral for a family therapist who can meet with you and your parents and ask your therapist to advocate for you in terms of having your parents participate in this. FX is concerned that you are not getting the help and support you need from your parents – and when this happens it can make effective treatment that much more difficult. It would be helpful for you and your parents to be able to discuss with a therapist the issues you are dealing with, what has contributed to them, how to best treat them, and what issues might be present in your relationships with one another that are impeding that process.

Some therapists are more qualified than others, and some therapists will be a better fit for a particular person than others. If you find that even with a psychiatric consultation and family therapy that things are not improving, talk with your therapist about your concerns about the effectiveness of your treatment so the two of you can figure out if something needs to be addressed in your therapy together or if perhaps a new therapist would be of benefit to you.

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

If you get to the point that you are seriously considering suicide or are afraid of your impulses then you need to seek help immediately. You can call 911 or go to your nearest hospital emergency room. In northern New Jersey you can also call the crisis hotline from Morristown Memorial hospital at 973-540-0100. Outside this area call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433), available 24 hours a day, or the Suicide & Crisis Hotline, 1-800-999-9999, 24 hours, 7 days a week.