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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5762
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I have a 17 year old daughter with severe anorexia. I am having

Resolved Question:

I have a 17 year old daughter with severe anorexia. I am having trouble with her not eating and saying the wrong thing about food. For example i had said i was finished eating and asked how are you going with your food. Aparrently that was the wrong thing to say and she gets upset and refuses to eat.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


You said that your daughter has severe anorexia. I am assuming then that she has been diagnosed by her doctor or other health care profession. If not, I would start there with her. She would need to be seen by a doctor to confirm her weight and find out what level she is at and a determination made for treatment.


In dealing with eating disorders, many times it is a matter of control. The more control the person has over their eating, the more they feel they have control over their lives. To help your daughter, I would talk with her and tell her that you are worried about her behavior. Offer to go with her to see her doctor to determine exactly what is going on. Also offer to go with her to counseling if it's recommended.


The doctor may feel that medication is indicated if your daughter is depressed. Anti depressants can lift her mood and also help a person regain their appetite.


I hope this has helped you,


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
<p>Yes, my daughter has already been medically diagnosed with AN and has been hospitalized three times since September, 2010.</p><p> </p><p>It is like walking on eggshells. If I do or say the wrong thing my daughter refuses/stops eating straight away.</p><p> </p><p>How do I cope with her controlling behaviour?</p><p>My daughter is not  on anti - depressants. Medication has not been considered by her doctor.</p>
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

It would help you both to try therapy. Talking with someone to work out how to handle what your daughter is going through and to help you deal with the stress of the situation.


In the meanwhile, try to keep your conversations with her as neutral as possible. It sounds to me as if she is using her eating habits to control what you say to her and how you say it. She seems to understand that you fear her hurting herself through her refusal to eat and she appreciates the reaction she gets from you when she refuses to eat. By keeping the conversation on neutral topics and not discussing her eating, she loses that reaction from you.


Brave Girl Eating: A Family's Struggle with Anorexia by Harriet Brown and Anorexia Nervosa: A Survival Guide for Families, Friends and Sufferers by Janet Treasure are two books you may want to read. They are on or you can try your local library. They will give you tips on how to deal with what your daughter is going through.


Hang in there. You are doing what you can to help your daughter and it is admirable that you care so much about her.


My best to you,


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Unfortunately when she is in hospital she has to follow her meal plan but once she is home it is back only eating a litlle bit. I am told the hospital can only get her medically stable then she is discharged. She is seing a psychologist once a week. She has been in hospital not just for the weight loss but her heart rate becomes erratic which is of more concern. She also has her first boyfriend who answers her questions when asked and seems to think he is the one who will be able to get her well. So far that is not working. She has decided not to speak to her father who is concerned for her but did not play much of a role when she was growing up. I don't get any imformation on how she is doing from her psychologist.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

It sounds as if you daughter is getting the care she needs at this point or at least what she is willing to accept. And you are doing what you can to help.


For you, however, the stress of dealing with the situation can be daunting. It would help a lot if you could also see a therapist to talk out your feelings and frustrations in dealing with your daughter's illness. Sometimes even just the chance to talk about how you feel and focus on yourself for a while can make a world of difference in how you approach the situation.


Also, there may be some local support groups in your area. Try contacting your local mental health center to find family groups. Having others who are going through what you are can also help a lot. You need support as well as answers to help you help your daughter.



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