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

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My RAN D is doing so much better at 35 pounds over her initial onset weight of 68 pounds.  We have been working with Columbia research hospital out of New York City for 9 months.  The entire process has been very interesting to me in terms of the brain research.  Because hers is a research hospital, in order to qualify for services rendered she needed to complete some studies including but not limited to MRI's and questionnaires.  I am very curious about this research, unfortunately, we are not made aware of her results, they are used for research purposes only.  

Most of us dealing with Anorexia know that the brain improves with weight gain due to the filling in and rerouting of bad neuropathways.  We may have also seen how a simple dip in weight can effect behaviors and cause relapse, but what I am curious about is, does weight loss of any major amount affect other brain disorders as well.

If this weight loss is true of eating disorders, wouldn't this also effect other brain disorders?  I ask this simply because I'm scared... plain and simple.  

While completing the many questionnaires and verbal interviews, my D was asked many questions about ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety.  My guess would be that YES in fact these things may ALL be affected by weight loss, and growth spurts, as well as hormonal fluxes, and brain maturity.  My dear girlfriend is dealing with a now teen who has had a big growth spurt with onset of menses and was at the same time diagnosed with ADHD and severe anxiety.  in quite contrast, my father, who has lost a considerable amount of weight in his older age was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.  My Godson, who has an aggressive form of Autism had severe seizures that increased with growth and hormonal change.

I am not saying that these weight fluxes or hormonal changes are causing disease, but I'm so curious about how they are all related, and if in fact other diseases can be treated with weight gain.  But also, I am curious if brain maturity, or rather the stabilization of brain growth, will eventually result in normal thought processes, those void of RAN tendencies now that my D is weight restored and having healthier thoughts.  I sure hope that this is true and that with brain maturity a dip in her weight later in life will not result in a true relapse.

This forum has been such a wealth of knowledge and support, that I cannot imagine having come this far without.  I am so inspired by the stories of hope and the informative articles I have read here.  If anyone has any thoughts on this topic I would love to hear them.
Thank you

What you posted is exactly the kind of stuff i'm fascinated by. My 10 year old D hit puberty and a couple of months later became anorexic. I think it's definitely linked. I bet they are going to really come up with a connection in the next couple of years. 
Your question fascinates me. In the UK there is a massive drive against obesity right now and all we seem to hear is how bad sugar is and how being overweight affects health negatively. At the same time I was interested by a news article lately that scrapped those rules for seniors and basically said they should e tucking into cake, pies, butter and so on. I’ll see if I can find it if I ever get the chance and link.

I’m interested in ‘joining the dots’ when it comes to health, for example it struck me recently how many much older women are on multiple meds for depression, sleep issues, aches and pains and what if they were given HRT? So many senior issues strike me that they may have started at menopause and then be seen in later life as just an age thing when perhaps it’s a hormone thing. It got me thinking how much money might be saved and how much more comfortable people could be if there was any truth in it.

The expression ‘you are what you eat’ holds a lot of truth, we’ll all know as non ED people that we can’t think quite straight if we skip lunch, and lack of sleep can make us lose our reason.

Interesting 😊
I also am very interested in brain disorders now too. I was thinking about autism as it's also a brain disorder.
There must be a way to heal the brain but I didn't see any research about it.
Hi kkhrd,

My daughter was treated at Columbia also! It has taken awhile, but she is doing well at the moment and I am forever thankful to the professionals there who I really cannot say enough good things about! They took weight restoration very seriously, helped our family enormously and my d. also took part in the MRI, questionnaires, and research into a therapy called REACH. They are doing really important work, since there is so much more to learn about these illnesses and how to treat them. And they are also saving lives.


Wow Kali, I am so happy to hear that! Best of luck to your family moving forward, Columbia has been a life saver for us as well, and while it has not been easy, to say the least, we have been so fully supported through some really difficult times!

Ellesmum, Debra18 and Cm72 I do think that these things are so very significant and with continued research they will save many lives and improve the mental health for so many. While I know that our main concern as parents of anorexics or bulemics or orthorexics is our own children’s health, I feel like learning as much about these issues and shining a light on them will not only help our kids but so many others too.

I recently watched an episode of a new show in the states called the good doctor. In this episode they focused on an older woman with a child who was killing herself with malnutrition from Anorexia, and while I was so happy to see that it wasn’t about some teenager fixated on her appearance (more stigma) but an older woman who battled through it her entire life, they spoke of it as a brain disorder, not a choice, clearly it was not her choice, and that made me so emotional because I want people to know that THIS is anorexia, not the stigma! It was also very scary to watch this woman so much older and with a family of her own and still struggling and it scared the crap out of me!

Fascinating discussion all and thanks for raising some of these issues and great to hear of the interesting research being done.

I have often wondered about the connection between illnesses, hormones and brain changes. I went to an ED family support group at our CAMHS a few weeks ago. 7 families were represented in all. 3 or possibly 4 of the families had another non ED sibling with autism which I thought was rather high.

Curiously my d entered psychiatric unit for suicidality and s/h and went on to an ED unit. The psychiatric unit was keen to look into family reasons for the psych issues but all they could come up with was we were not very emotionally expressive. I'll hold my hand up to not being a perfect parent but this seemed weak in terms of causality.

In contrast, the ED unit took the modern approach with no blame on parents and so FT was much more along the lines of 'ED explodes into families how can we help you all recover?' As a parent this is much more empowering and speaks to the fact they get there is something going on in terms of brain/hormones/genetics and see the family as being part of the solution. 

I mention this because for my d (now out of IP and under CAMHS) all her issues are inter-connected yet the approach from the psych world is very different depending on which behaviour they are focussing on. 

In addition, my d had chronic fatigue on and off from aged 7. One of the issues she experienced is lack of cues for hunger and sleep. Also, it is not uncommon for those with CFS to experience depression and anxiety - possibly as a result of this awful illness but also there is possibly a link between continual anxiety (caused perhaps by issues with adrenal gland) and the stress this puts on the body. 

I was also reading about changes during puberty and the idea that with a lot of moving parts, things can 'break' This is hardly scientific I know, but more research into this time of change would be welcome. What if much of what we see in psychiatric illneses are related to hormones and such like? Think of the time, hurt and money that could posssibly be saved in treatment.

One day......

Agreed Smileymum.  Here's to research!  

I find what you said about the anxiety interesting because what I have read about the link to anxiety is that it is a type of umbrella.  Anxiety causes much of the underlying issues, Anorexia, OCD, ADHD, and depression.  My D has struggled with anxiety from a very, very young age, and it always represented itself in other forms while growing, sleep deprivation, strange stimming ticks like arm flapping, mild OCDs regarding germs.  This most recent development linking back to anxiety, Anorexia, however being the worst illness we have dealt with.  She has always been a type A personality, but I think these things are symptomatic of anxiety, not Anorexia.  While I do think that certain characteristics have gotten better, after first having gotten MUCH worse, they are still there under the surface.  Her stimming was off the charts before a meal, hopping, flapping, shaking her head, but now as she is WR those are gone, I still see her flap her hands if she is working on something that requires much focus, like school work.  She is still a germaphobe, thankfully no more sleep issues, but if something sets her off, the other night we had a large raccoon in the garage that was viciously growling and I had to sit and calm her because it all came rushing back.

The anxiety is hereditary too, which is what they say of Anorexia.  I have struggled with it all my life, and as a result developed a type of orthorexia in college, my son also has anxiety and when he was much younger I had him in services because he was displaying asperger like symptoms.  He is a fully functioning straight A student now, but he has some anxiety that creeps in from time to time.  This also concerns me because he hasn't gone through puberty yet, and I am not sure if he will display some type of disorder when this happens in the coming months.  He is 12.

The brain is a super complex organ and I am sure that the hormonal fluxes play a huge part, just think about how we women operate emotionally during PMS.  I know I personally turn into a different person, short fuse, impatient, devoid of compassion....  basically I become a BITCH!