If you have taken on the responsibility as the primary source of support for someone you love who has an eating disorder, you should also look into help and support for yourself. The amount of care you are giving to someone with an eating disorder can cause actual diagnosable mental illness in your life as well.
If you have done the work you needed to do to care for the person with an eating disorder, and you convinced your loved one to go into treatment, your emotional and mental connection to this person’s well-being does not just stop.
Formal treatment is a time for the person to heal and learn why he or she started having an unhealthy relationship with food, exercise, and his or her own body. While the person with an eating disorder is seemingly getting better, the previous caregivers may not be getting the support they need to keep themselves healthy.
The mental health care world is identifying that depression and anxiety persist among caregivers of those attending eating disorder treatment. When compared to the general population, those caring for someone who has an eating disorder are three times more likely to experience the symptoms of anxiety and six times more likely to experience the symptoms of depression.
These rates, resulting from a study of 246 eating disorder caregivers, are higher than for caregivers who have taken care of loved ones suffering from cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease. The study also shows that women, generally mothers of children with an eating disorder, have more occurrences of anxiety than men, or fathers of children with an eating disorder. And, those less educated caregivers of someone with an eating disorder have more incidences of depression than those who are more educated and caring for a diagnosed eating disordered loved one.
Enrolling in therapy and a support group is important for you as a caregiver moving forward in your life.