I have a 23 years old sister and her behaviors cause anxiety. We moved to Canada about 2 years ago and since then I feel responsible a lot about her. Our parents are in back home and I feel I have to protect her and do as much as I can for her. She imputes to me all the tasks she has to do. She doesn’t eat at all in a day or she eats fast food (she is overweight), she doesn’t sleep in normal ours, she is depressed and doesn’t have friends at all. I can’t stop thinking about something will happen to her so bad bc she doesn’t eat. Sometimes I think she will get a big health problem or mental issue and I am trying to think about how can I deal with it. I try to help her and talk to her often about what she should eat or she should go to nutritionist or psychologist but she never listen to me and she says “I don’t know why I am like this, I want to change my behaviors but I can’t.” I just want to stop worrying, I feel sick. I can’t live my life if I can’t stop worrying about her all the time. (From Canada)
Your sister is very lucky to have your thoughtful and loving care. Her lethargy, sleeping pattern, and eating behaviors along with her feelings of helplessness are typical indications of a depression. While I certainly can’t diagnose your sister for an email — I can say I understand why you are feeling the way that you do. Being around someone you love who can’t control their basic needs is a scary thing to watch and feel responsible for. I understand how difficult it can be to carry this burden when your parents are so far away.
Yet, this might offer the very way to get some help. I’d encourage you to make an appointment with a therapist to talk about the struggle you are having dealing with your sister. The reason for this meeting would be for you to explain your worry and how to best help cope with your concern and anxiety for your sister’s wellbeing. Once you’ve made the appointment then invite your sister to come and help you in the session. Let her know you need her to explain what she is experiencing with you being worried so much. Your sister may not be willing to help herself/ but she just might be willing to help you by attending one session.
A skilled therapist will be able to understand the issue very directly and may be able to offer some guidance and options for your sister. Helping you might get her in the door and in front of a professional who could help suggest where these behaviors of hers are coming from. The Find Help tab at the top of the page can help you find one in your area.
Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
APA Reference Tomasulo, D. (2019). I Can Not Stop Worrying About My Younger Sister. Psych Central.
Retrieved on November 20, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/08/03/i-can-not-stop-worrying-about-my-younger-sister/
Last updated: 30 Jul 2019 (Originally: 3 Aug 2019) Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 30 Jul 2019 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.