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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I help my 38 year old daughter? I believe she has an eating disorder.

    My daughter is a walking skeleton - she said it was due to the stress at work - I believe her problems started even before but was exacerbated by Work load pressure & not sympathetic boss - she is depressed - currently trying to go through work cover system - we are trying to encourage her to see a psychiatrist & psychologist. Is that the right way to go?
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  • My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    I suggest that you encourage your daughter to see her GP for a full physical check-up; it is possible that physical health issues may be responsible for her loss of weight.

    As far as a possible ED is concerned, the Butterfly Foundation is a great local resource:

    http://thebutterflyfoundation.org.au/

    There is a lot of good information there.

    All the best.

  • Shannon Moule

    Psychologist

    I'm a registered psychologist with experience working in both community and public health settings. I have experience working with children, adolescents, and adults with a … View Profile

    It is really great to hear she has a supportive network. Having a willing and able to supportive network is a big part in someone's recovery. Seeing a psychologist and probably a psychiatrist with experience in eating and mood disorders is definitely the right direction.

    Just another note:

    The difficulty I have found with most people supporting loved ones with mental and emotional difficulties is that often their approach, although meaning well, ends up driving the person further away from getting help. Instead of telling them what there problem is and what they need to do about it (e.g., you have a depression and you need to see a psych) it is a lot more effective to have an open conversation where you express your concerns and ask if they need to talk to you about anything. Let them know you are there, even if they are saying they are fine. Refrain from telling them what they need to do, empower them to acknowledge they have a problem and what they feel they need to do to address it. This can be very hard to do as often we feel quite powerless in this situation.

    A lot of people battle with shame around what they are suffering from so avoid talking to others out of fear of judgement. Let them know you won't judge them and will support them no matter what. People also think they will burden their loved ones, if they share their diffciulties, so avoid talking about it for that reason. Let them know you are there for them, no matter what and would never feel burdened by their troubles, that you only want to help.

    If you are already doing the above that is fantastic and if not, don't beat yourself up, you are doing the very best you can and you care for the wellbeing of your daughter. Don't forget to be mindful of your own care during this time. Seek support from friends, family or other professionals, don't do it on your own.

    Putting the above aside, if you have grave concerns for her wellbeing, that is her life is in danger due to her current weight and/or mental health, please contact the acute care mental health team in your district and/or local GP as in some circumstances, involuntary treatment orders can be put in place to address the immediate crisis situation.

    All the best to you and your family.

  • Elizabeth Newsham-West is committed to optimising the health and well-being of people across all ages within the Mount Tamborine community.  She works as a domicillary … View Profile

    I would strongly encourage you to get your daughter to see her GP first , for a full medical check up. If she is a walking skeleton there may be some important medical and nutritional areas that need to be addressed first and then psychotherapy can be much more successful. (Practice Guidelines 2013 American Psychiatric Assn). Her GP can also provide Medicare plans which means that some professional services can be covered (or partly covered) by Medicare.
    Restricted eating disorder ( Anorexia Nervosa) is a malnutrition disease first and only when these nutritional areas are addressed and weight is being restored to a certain level is where treatment becomes more successful including psychotherapy.  There are good studies which show when weight is too low, this malnutrition in itself is perpetuating the disordered eating which can only be reversed when weight and nutrition is being restored ( Starvation Study) . There are certainly drivers to disordered eating with Psychotherapy being essential in addressing these areas and crucial in managing this disease long term, but needs to be on a platform of better nutrition and weight. Disordered eating is a chronic disease and if not addressed early and speedily by a multi disciplinary team then it can go on for years. Start with you GP.

    I would encourage you to ring the Butterfly Foundation as they are also helpful to family members who have a memeber with disordered eating.

    The condition may be perpetuated by the biochemical changes induced by weight loss , ketosis and the impact of the ensuing malnutrition on the brain (starvation illness). ......   Silber, T. J. (2013).

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