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5 Signs Your Teen Needs Eating Disorder Treatment

Eating disorders frequently appear first during the teen years, but may develop during childhood or at any time of life. Eating disorders can be caused by genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors. Girls are more than two and a half times as likely as boys to have an eating disorder.

Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. However there are several eating disorder that do not “fit” the textbook description or definition of these disorders and are then labeled as EDNOS or eating disorders not otherwise specified. Eating habits among teenagers and into college aged youth are hard to map and therefore not much is known about these habits. What is known is that approximately 3% of U.S. adolescents are affected and that most cases do not receive treatment for their disorder.

Signs that Treatment for an Eating Disorder is Necessary Include:

  • A relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight or an intense fear of gaining weight accompanied by extremely restricted eating
  • Severe dehydration from purging fluids
  • Chronically inflamed sore throat
  • Loss of control over food intake
  • Absence of menstruation in females

These signs may indicate that there is an eating disorder present. As with any medical disorder, the sooner it is recognized and treatment can begin, the better. Other, more severe symptoms may develop over time, if the disorder continues untreated.

Anorexia nervosa

Those who suffer with anorexia nervosa see themselves as overweight, even when they are underweight. They obsess about eating, food, and weight control. People with anorexia nervosa typically eat very small quantities of only certain foods, weigh themselves repetitively, and pay extreme attention to portioning their food carefully. Some who suffer with anorexia nervosa follow binge-eating with extreme dieting and exercise, induce vomiting on purpose, and/or misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.

Bulimia nervosa

teen eating disorder

If your teen is displaying the signs of an eating disorder it is important that you seek help now.

Patients with bulimia nervosa feel a lack of control over episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food. These episodes are frequent and recurrent characteristics of Bulimia. The binge-eating is then followed by forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives/diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or any combination of these actions that amends the overeating in the eye of the afflicted.

Binge-eating disorder

A person with binge-eating disorder loses control over his or her eating. However, unlike bulimia nervosa, periods of binge-eating are not followed by actions to compensate for eating that much by purging, fasting, or excessive exercise. This results in people with binge-eating disorder often being over-weight or obese. Those who are afflicted with binge-eating disorder and are obese are at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. They may also experience guilt, shame, and distress about their binge-eating, which can entice them to more binge-eating.

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