Depression, Bipolar or Anxiety?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My mind feels as though it is being constantly battered and weakened. I used to be anorexic, but that was four years ago, and I do not feel that it was a pure anorexia, but a manifestation of some sort of depression. I simply did not want to eat because I did not want to prolong my life. Since recovery I have spent months feeling stable, months feeling out of control and months feeling as though my only option was to hide/run away/die. My moods can change so fast that I hardly know myself, or trust myself sometimes…I used to regularly self-harm, but now it only happens if I let my mind be overcome by an intense rage/dizziness/distress…As the years go by I have less faith in myself to maintain stability…I eat nutritious organic food, exercise regularly and don’t often drink anymore. I take supplements. But I still have chronic insomnia and am at the point of being completely overwhelmed.

A. I am not certain of your exact question but I think it is about whether anorexia could have been, in your case, a manifestation of depression. It may have been. The lack of eating was directly related to not wanting to live anymore. If that were the only reason for why you did not eat then depression may have been at the root of the problem. On the other hand, anorexia really isn’t about food per se and most individuals with the disorder likely suffer with depression, at least to some degree. It is a difficult question to answer because I have so little information about you and your history.

You state that you are currently in recovery and I’m assuming you mean recovery from an eating disorder. Usually followup care is suggested following eating disorder treatment. I’m wondering if you are in treatment. I suspect that you are not. If you are not then you should be. As time passes you admittedly become less stable. It should be the other way around, where you become more stable over time.

Another important area to address is the self-harm. You currently engage in self-harming behavior when you feel overwhelmed but not as much as you used to. It is important to highlight your progress in this area but you shouldn’t ignore the fact that you still occasionally harm yourself. The fact that you do it less often is good but it brings up another concern: when you do self-harm is it more severe?

It seems as though you have overcome anorexia and that is true, it is a major, major achievement. But there are still other issues to deal with that may require professional help. I would suggest that you consider psychotherapy. You have been able to decrease the frequency of self-harm but it still has not been eliminated from your life. The fact that you feel less stable over time is another indication that professional help may be needed. With the advent of the Internet it is easier to find therapists in your community. Here is a directory that you may want to consult. Another idea is to ask for a referral from the mental health professionals associated with your eating disorder recovery program. They may know of a good therapist. I hope you will consider it. Thank you for your question. I wish you best of luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 Dec 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Depression, Bipolar or Anxiety?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/12/31/depression-bipolar-or-anxiety/