Teen Eating Disorders

Unfortunately teen eating disorders are a struggle that many teens face at least some variation of during some of the most important, life-changing years of their development from being a child to growing into an adult. Teen eating disorders can be treatable if the teen is willing to get help.

Unfortunately only about 20 percent of teens and adults with eating disorders actively seek help for this mental illness. About one or two out of every 100 high school teens suffer from an eating disorder whether it be Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia or even binge eating. These teens are going to great lengths to greatly restrict what they eat, throw up with a they eat or exercise excessively. Because teens are at a point in their life where their bodies are changing at a dramatic rate, there are times where they may feel fat or too curvy or soft in comparison to their peers. But that is usually only because teens may enter puberty or different developmental stages at different points in their teen years. Teen eating disorders are also common because they stem from a person’s lack of control they feel over their own life. They may feel out of focus or may think they aren’t able to control what is going on in their family life, with friends or with school. Instead, they will resort to their eating habits to try and find a way to gain that much needed feeling of control over their life, by controlling their weight and physical appearance.

Symptoms of Teen Eating Disorders:

Teens with eating disorders typically will show signs of rapid weight loss and an obsession with avoiding food, refusing to eat or being secretive with when they do eat. They will make excuses to not join the family for dinner and they might work out excessively or more than usual. Teens with eating disorders also show signs of depression and anxiety. Their friendships and other relationships might suffer because of their preoccupation with their eating disorder. They will find reasons to not participate in certain family or group functions where food is concerned, or they will head to the bathroom directly after eating. Teens with eating disorders also might try spitting their food into a napkin or refuse to eat at all.

Teens with eating disorders might also binge frequently, so they will find as much food as they can to ingest and likely throw up afterward. Teens with bulimia will also have dental problems because the effect of the vomit’s acidity on their teeth. They might also take laxatives to help lose the weight. They might also eat food from the trash if they can because they feel powerless when it comes to eating.

The Effects of Teen Eating Disorders:

Eating disorders can cause all kinds of lasting problems that can still exist even once the emotional/mental illness portion of the eating disorder has been treated. Those with eating disorders are likely to have heart problems, gastrointestinal problems, kidney problems and more. For those with severe eating disorders, death can result from malnutrition or heart failure. Teen eating disorders are serious and more than just a quick way to lose weight. They can mess up a person’s metabolism for life, which may make it more difficult for them to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight in the future. Kidney and gallbladder problems also might result from teens with eating disorders. Aside from the physical toll an eating disorder can take on ¬†your body, those with eating disorders often suffer dramatic emotional distress and struggles for the rest of their lives.

Treating Teen Eating Disorders:

Because teens with eating disorders are likely to be reluctant to discuss their struggles with friends or family members. it is important for parents and even other teens to watch their friends and family members. If they begin exhibiting disturbing eating habits or other behaviors, it is a good idea to consider confronting them about their behaviors and getting them professional help. There are trained therapists that have extensive knowledge in treating teen eating disorders as well as rehabilitation centers that can help those with severe eating disorders. Getting professional help is often the only way to successfully treat a teen with an eating disorder for the long term.

Sources: kidshealth.org