F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

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Mcmum
Good evening from the UK. My 9 year old ed son and I have just returned from a camhs session and it is looking increasingly like anxiety and/or depression were possible pre existing conditions prior to him being diagnosed with an. Obviously the an has exacerbated these traits but now that he is weight restored, some of the old flatness which was noticeable at certain times or in certain situations remains and I am increasingly convinced that this predated the restricting.
What do I do? Does anyone know of anything I can read or do? In social situations in particular my son can be very withdrawn/flat/glum. Autism has been ruled out. Any ideas???
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ValentinaGermania
Hi Mcmum,

a lot of AN patients have pre-existing anxieties. It increases their genetic risk to develop AN about 35 times. You can read about that in Carrie Arnolds "Decoding Anorexia".

What we do now is treat those anxieties the same way as fear food: exposure therapy. Make a list what he is anxious about and try to practise these things with him until the anxiety is lessening.

Tina72
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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deenl
Hi mcmum,

In my experience depression and anxiety are very close with my family slightly closer to the anxious side.

I find these books very helpful
Freeing your Child from Anxiety by Tamar Chansky. It is suitable for children of your sons age and the bit I really like is that it gives sample scripts for parents so you know how to put theory into practice.

Apparently there are two pathways in the brain where anxiety originates; the older amygdala where the fears are often an unconscious reaction and the more recent, in evolutionary terms, cerebral cortex where fears are obsessed over. I found the following book explained both well, although it is geared towards adults. Rewire your Anxious Brain by Catherine Pittman and Elizabeth Karle.

I do know that my non ED youngest is pretty low energy and often pretty flat. It does not seem to be depression though, unless he's been depressed his whole life! I only mention it because the professionals we dealt with could not seem to accept that ED son did not have some big issue that triggered the ED. They dug and dug and twisted themselves in knots trying to find stuff. Even telling use he was on the autistic spectrum, when I said kids kids don't develop ASD at 12 they said I was so used to his ways I no longer noticed the symptoms. With nutritional rehabilitation a therapist has confirmed this to be a misdiagnosis.

I am always torn about saying something on the forum and generally suggest to parents that they trust their gut. If this feels like a light bulb moment that explains lots of situations in you child's life from well before the ED then it is likely to be a co-morbid. If, on the other hand, you gut feel is a hmmm, or it only seems to explain the year or two before the ED then it is possible that nutritional rehabilitation will see a lifting of symptoms. Kids are often slipping down the ED path for months or a year before more extreme symptoms become visible.

My son was severely depressed and no wonder, he was not eating enough protein to have the building blocks to make seretonin, or enough glucose to regulate mood as just two very simple examples of the many biological effects of under nourishment. Even if the depression is co-morbid, proper nutrition will help immensely.

Warm wishes,

D
2015 12yo son restricting but no body image issues, no fat phobia; lost weight IP! Oct 2015 home, stable but no progress. Medical hosp to kick start recovery Feb 2016. Slowly and cautiously gaining weight at home and seeing signs of our real kid.

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Building up hour by hour at school after 18 months at home. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, food variety, begin socialising. Sept 2017, back to school FT first time in 2 years. [thumb] 2018 growing so fast hard to keep pace with weight
  • Swedish proverb: Love me when I least deserve it because that's when I need it most.
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence Recovery, then, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle.
  • If the plan doesn't work, change the plan but never the goal.
  • We cannot control the wind but we can direct the sail.
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Mcmum
Thanks both. That's really helpful. I'll have a read. It's the year preceding the restricting where my son's mood became low in certain situations and camhs seem determined to find something but I don't really want to medicalise what might just be my son being my son. Though he presents as withdrawn at times in social situations, he is funny and great company at home.
I'll continue to feed, read and try to help him through the difficult episodes. The possible autism I knew wasn't real. I've taught kids with autism for years and knew my s didn't have the same traits. Equally all the ocd stuff is melting away in recent weeks. He's grown another centimetre in the last week too. Maybe some people are not meant to be social animals! My daughter thinks that she was similarly awkward socially at the same age.
I totally agree with trust your gut but I keep doubting my gut every time we go to camhs or have a difficult day!
Thanks again though for the wise words and help xx
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Torie
Tamar Chansky's book is often recommended by forum parents so I'm sure it is worth a read.

My impression is that depression generally comes and goes on its own - treatment can sometimes help (meds or CBT/DBT etc.) but don't underestimate the healing value of time.

My d's mental health history will always be somewhat a mystery, I think.  She developed serious depression complete with cutting and suicidal ideation before she started losing weight.  A few years after wr, she was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder but no longer depression.  She tried an antidepressant, but that didn't help (seemed to make it worse), and has had a therapist the whole time (a few different ones), who might help or maybe not - not sure.  Anyway, she is off at university doing really well.

I don't mean to minimize the effects of anxiety and/or depression.  Far from it.  But I do want to say that effective treatment is not as straightforward as it is with AN, where we know WHAT we need to do, even as we struggle mightily to make that happen.  It can be very hard to know what to do for anxiety and depression.  My non-ED kids have many friends who suffer from one or both, and yet they live full lives.

So I wish you the best of luck in sorting out the pre/co-morbids, but I also suggest you keep in mind that tremendous numbers of people go through life battling depression and/or anxiety while for the most part leading good and full lives.   Unless the depression/anxiety is severe, that is very possible.  What I tell my own kids (two of whom have anxiety disorder diagnosis) that that is definitely a stroke of bad luck, but even still with that, they are still very lucky people.

I hope this isn't sounding awful in some way.  I guess to sum it up, I have always felt we cannot live with AN in the house.  That one we MUST evict.  Anxiety/depression we prefer not to live with, but it is difficult or impossible to find a cure and even with them in the house, life can still be pretty darn okay.  xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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mjkz
Well I didn't have far to search for whose genes my daughter got!!!  I suffer from treatment resistant depression and anxiety as did my daughter pre ed.  It was only with effective treatment for all three that she was able to get better.
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Torie
mjkz wrote:
Well I didn't have far to search for whose genes my daughter got!!!  I suffer from treatment resistant depression and anxiety as did my daughter pre ed.  It was only with effective treatment for all three that she was able to get better.


What worked for the anxiety and depression? xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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mjkz
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What worked for the anxiety and depression? xx


Three pronged approach:

1.  Meds.  We both got genetic testing and then were put on meds.

2.  Therapy-DBT/CBT both helped immensely.  She also got trauma based therapy and did some EMDR.  She did have a trauma that kicked off the ED but that was made a lot worse by repeated hospital stays, NG tube placements, etc.

3.  And of course-nutrition, weight restoration and time for brain healing to occur.
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tammy
They also discussed autism with my then eight year old son. As the weight went on all these behaviours disappeared. He was also withdrawn and flat. The more his weight increased the better he got. He was always highly strung and anxious. My husband commented the other day that he is now in the best place mentally that he has ever been.
I hope that the further into recovery your son gets the better his mood gets and if not you have all the great advice from above

Good luck

Tammy
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Torie
mjkz wrote:
Three pronged approach:

1.  Meds.  We both got genetic testing and then were put on meds.

2.  Therapy-DBT/CBT both helped immensely.  She also got trauma based therapy and did some EMDR.  She did have a trauma that kicked off the ED but that was made a lot worse by repeated hospital stays, NG tube placements, etc.

3.  And of course-nutrition, weight restoration and time for brain healing to occur.


So pleased you were able to find something that works!  If you don't mind, would you please tell us about the meds?  And also how you found someone good at DBT/CBT?  I just seem to keep striking out on all fronts with this.

Oh, and last question (for now):  Would you call this a cure or something more like an improvement?  xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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