National Eating Disorders Association

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Relapsing after years of recovery

I have no idea why I am reverting back to my ED behaviors after years of recovery. I am very nervous lately and feeling depressed and I have no idea why. My life is ok,no major problems, but yet I'm feeling nervous an gradually using ED behaviors.Just very confused.

ED behaviors

Hi Linny615, I think that you may have relapsed because of your depression and maybe you wanted to feel better but didn't really know how so you reverted back to the ED behaviors because it may be something familiar to you and comfortable? Please let me know if i'm on the right track here. Thanks. I also don't want to put words in your mouth so if that isn't what you're feeling please let me know.

I think your absolutely

I think your absolutely correct. I feel safer when I'm engaged in my ED world. Almost like I'm protecting myself. I am also in perimenopause an I'm thinking that might have a lot to do with it. I'm in my late forties, I'm old LOL. I feel like my hormones are playing havoc on my mental and physical health. It feels like everything is exasperated more in my life. It's hard to explain. But I've been to the doctors had bloodwork, been to my Ob/gyn eight months ago an everything is fine there, but here I am freaking out over everything!! I don't get it.

I agree

Hello- I am so sorry you are struggling with a relapse after years of recovery, that is always disappointing and perplexing. I would tend to agree with the previous post that the depression and anxiety are likely the reason for this episode you are experiencing. However, if your relapse happened first, then I would say that you're anxiety and depression are the result of your relapse. It is often hard to determine what causes what, as mental health issues are so closely linked. It might be a good idea to try to write a timeline of when you noticed your mood changing with respect to the start of your relapse, and see if you can determine what issue you noticed first. Do you have a therapist? The best thing would be to talk to a professional who can help you decide the best course of action to take. I like what the previous post said about the ED behaviors being familiar and a reaction to your feelings of depression and anxiety. The problems feed off of each other which is problematic when it comes to trying to get better. It's like a drug addict relapsing on a meth to alleviate anxiety and depression, the relief might be felt initially, but soon the drugs will cause even more anxiety and depression. It is a tough cycle to be in and it feels overwhelming, I have been in your situation more than once. I had to manage my ED behaviors immediately and stop my relapse before it snowballed out of control. Once I did that, I was able to work with my therapist on the other issues. I am clearly not a professional so I can't advise you, other than to tell you my experience. For me, I could not overcome the emotional issues as long as I was actively engaged in my ED behaviors. I tried in therapy to manage those feelings of anxiety and depression, but as long as I continued to restrict and starve myself, those issues persisted. I hope your years of recovery will help you find the tools you need to halt the relapse before it gets too far along. Those years are not lost just because you are having a relapse. You succeeded once before so you have it in you somewhere to get back to that healthy place once again. I go to a 12-step support group and have learned how to utilize the 12-steps to get back on track when I've relapsed, and I recommend this approach to anyone struggling from an ED. Of course therapy is also so important, and I hope you have someone who you can talk to for professional guidance so that you don't have to go through this alone. I wish I had something more to say that would help you in this hard time, but know that you are thought of and prayed for.

Thx for responding. The only

Thx for responding. The only thing I can think of that would cause my ED to resurface is I am going through perimenopause right now an I am a nervous wreck all the time. My emotions are all over the place. It seems like everything is exasperated more. I do take anxiety medication an it seems to keep me at bay. I don't know how old you are, but I'm in my late forties. I'm an old lady LOL. But I can't believe I have to possibly call my therapist again?? I have not see her in couple of years an I feel really anxious all the time. To give an example of how I'm feeling....if something goes wrong financially or with my health I completely spaz out. It's like the end if the world to me. I never use to be like this at all. I'm thinking my hormones are really playing havoc on my mental and physical health.

Go back to what helped

You recover last time and recount that. Maybe that will help you this time.


I hope so, I feel as if I

I hope so, I feel as if I made a complete circle an I'm at the beginning again. I also noticed that when I'm engaged in ED behaviors I think about nothing else. It's almost like an escape for me. I know this all sounds crazy, but my nerves are shot.

try some

Relaxation, like yoga. It will get it out of your mind for a little while.


Hi- I suffer with anxiety and have found mindfulness meditation helpful for me. I don't take anxiety meds anymore and I feel like the anxiety is manageable through meditation and deep breathing when it's bad. Your relapse could be a hormonal issue and your anxiety could also be a result of changing hormones. I am 48 and definitely familiar with hormonal changes that make me feel out of wack emotionally, which often triggers me to want to restrict my food intake. Again, I really think a therapist would be able to help you through this difficult time. A therapist can help you look into the cause of your anxiety and ED, and also coping strategies, which it sounds like you need right now. I'm sorry you are going through all of this at once but it sounds to me like all of your issues are linked in some way and need sorting out so life doesn't keep causing you to "spaz out", as you stated. Good luck:)