National Eating Disorders Association

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Think my niece may have eating disorder +anxiety,help.

My niece is 11. I know she is dealing with anxiety for sure,but I also believe she may be dealing with an eating disorder. My niece has mentioned to my sister that she doesn't want to get fat. She is very thin,either a bottom of weight scale or below. The last few times she eaten and I've seen her,she disappears into the bathroom. She constantly says she feels dizzy,her tummy hurts,tummy hurts after eating. She gets moody sometimes,ive seen her breakdown and cry over not doing something properly,in her eyes. My sister knows she has anxiety but feels there is something medically wrong,but does not think there's any eating disorder. Pediatrician said so has a school avoidance/anxiety issue and to get her into group councilling.Up to Dec last year from beginning Sept,she had missed about 25 days of school.I don't know how to help. I've talked about the councilling and how thats good idea. I mentioned the eating disorder which she fluffed off. She thinks the doctors are nuts,she said there only seeing the anxiety and not looking for anything else medical wrong,which is what my sister feels.She said if her daughter feels rotten,shell keep her home,even if she ends up flunking,and everyone can kiss her butt.I get to the point I almost feel I'll be attacked verbally if I mentioned anything more. She has not still inquired about the group councilling. I just don't know more how to help.My sister will complain to me here and that,but if you don't support her thinking or opinions,she just doesn't want to here it. I'm afraid its just going to keep getting worse and worse and its a ticking time bomb.Anyone have any suggestions as to what more I can do,besides just be here to listen,cause she won't listen to me or my opinions.

Back to you.

Well nobody wants there to be "a problem", particularly not parents, so it may not be unusual that your sister is not particularly interested in hearing your opinions. Maybe that's just human nature ? But as you've said, it's quite possible that there is a problem.

And yes, EDs can definitely begin at young ages like that. And even younger. Anxiety can lead to things like EDs. Perfectionism can be a big factor too. While it's not fair to diagnose things from a distance, it's easy to wonder how she might respond to the questions on the NEDA screening questionnaire.

When you are responding to your sister, I know it's been difficult, so rather than giving advice, you might want to take a different approach. One that helps her figure out things for herself ?

If she complains, you might say "I imagine it must be hard not knowing what's going on with your daughter", and see where the conversation goes from there ?

"It must be difficult seeing her having to stay home from school like that" - The sorts of questions and statements where you are trying to put yourself in her shoes, if you know what I mean ?

" I can imagine it must be hard to decide what sort of actions to take which might feel helpful to your daughter" Things like that, you know ? Statements which help her feel like you're on her side.

Because yes, it does sound like her daughter could use some help of some sort. If not for the eating, for the anxiety and the other sorts of worries she has.

Concerning Symptoms

Hi snowflake13, We're sorry to hear about what's going on with your niece. You described some concerning symptoms that your niece is currently struggling with. Just because you mentioned that she is constantly experiencing dizziness and abdominal pain we wanted to provide information on the signs and symptoms of a medical emergency to keep an eye on: A person does not have to be underweight to have an eating disorder or to require emergency medical care for one. Seek medical help immediately if your significant other experiences: • accidentally or deliberately causes themselves a physical injury• becomes suicidal• experiences confused thinking and is not making any sense• experiences delusions (false beliefs) or hallucinations (experiencing things that aren’t there)• feels disoriented; doesn’t know what day it is, where they are or who they are• vomits several times a day or has uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea• experiences dizziness or fainting spells• feels too weak to walk or collapses• experiences painful muscle spasms• complains of chest pain or having trouble breathing• observes blood in their bowel movements, urine or vomit• has a body mass index (BMI) of less than 16• has an irregular heartbeat or very low heart beat (less than 50 beats per minute)• has cold or clammy skin indicating a low body temperature or has a body temperature of less than 35 degrees Celsius/95 degrees Fahrenheit Or for any other serious medical concerns.We highly recommend that your significant other seeks medical attention as soon as possible. Another option is 911.