Teen Eating Disorders

Eating disorders do not discriminate and are not limited to any one group of people; they can affect anyone, regardless of race, sex, or socioeconomic status. We estimate that 2.8% of young adults in the United States suffer from teen eating disorders.

Among teens, eating disorders are part of serious mental illnesses that can have life-threatening consequences if left untreated.

Hillside Horizon has extensive knowledge of each type of eating disorder and explored the factors that may contribute to their development. Here we will share the signs and symptoms of each condition and provide information on how therapy helps treat teen eating disorders.

Teen Eating Disorders

Eating disorders do not discriminate and are not limited to any one group of people; they can affect anyone, regardless of race, sex, or socioeconomic status. We estimate that 2.8% of young adults in the United States suffer from teen eating disorders.

Among teens, eating disorders are part of serious mental illnesses that can have life-threatening consequences if left untreated.

Hillside Horizon has extensive knowledge of each type of eating disorder and explored the factors that may contribute to their development. Here we will share the signs and symptoms of each condition and provide information on how therapy helps treat teen eating disorders.

What Are Eating Disorders?

There are three primary eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. All three conditions involve distorted body image, dysfunctional eating habits, and extreme emotions surrounding food and weight.

symptoms-of-eating-disorders

Eating Disorder Subtypes

Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by abnormally low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of one’s own body shape. People with anorexia often see themselves as overweight or obese, even when dangerously thin or malnourished.

Teens suffering from anorexia typically have little to no desire to lose weight but will resort to extreme dieting measures to avoid becoming overweight. Many experts believe that the primary cause of anorexia nervosa is an obsessive desire to be thin, yet this theory remains somewhat controversial.

Some experts believe that the disorder develops because of the combination of genetic factors, neurochemical imbalances in the brain, and psychological issues involving self-esteem and personal relationships.

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder that involves recurrent episodes of binging (consuming abnormally large quantities of food in a short period of time) followed by purging. Purging usually takes the form of forced vomiting, excessive exercise, or the use of laxatives, diuretics, and other prescription medications.

Typically, people with bulimia are obsessed with their weight and shape but will often restrict their caloric intake to avoid gaining weight. As a result, they become underweight and malnourished.

However, even though these individuals are significantly underweight, they typically give no thought to changing their eating habits until they start purging.

Binge-Eating Disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of consuming abnormally large amounts of food followed by feelings of guilt, shame, and disgust. People with binge-eating disorders are typically overweight or obese, but they do not experience the same body image issues that anorexics and bulimics often experience.

According to some experts, binge-eating disorders affect over 46% of all teens that suffer from eating disorders and are closely linked to major depressive disorders and anxiety disorders. Others believe that certain psychological factors, such as low self-esteem, addiction to food, and a dysfunctional family environment.

Many researchers also believe there is a connection between childhood neglect/abuse and eating disorders later in life.

What Causes Eating Disorders?

While the causes of common eating disorders remain somewhat unclear, experts believe that a combination of both environmental factors and genetic predispositions may contribute to the development of these illnesses.

Research has shown dysfunctional family environments, where parents tend to be overly strict with their children’s eating habits and weight control, as potential contributing factors to the development of eating disorders later in life. Others believe that certain psychological factors may contribute to the development of eating disorders in both men and women.

These include obsession with attaining thinness, fear of being fat, addiction to food or purging habits, low self-esteem, perfectionism, or other personality issues such as depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Treatment for Teens Diagnosed With Eating Disorder

Unfortunately, there is no single cure for any one type of eating disorder. However, if a person has been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, they are most likely to be treated in a hospital setting where their weight gain can be closely monitored using regular weigh-ins with behavior therapists.

Anorexia Treatment

One treatment used to treat anorexia for many years is cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT therapy for teens. The main goal of behavior therapy is to identify and correct any thought patterns that may contribute to the development of an eating disorder.

Bulimia Treatment

People who have been diagnosed with bulimia nervosa will typically undergo different types of therapy in either group or one-on-one settings. Bulimia has been considered the most predominant disorder, with at least ten times the prevalence of anorexia.

Treatment for this disorder frequently includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT therapy for teens). This approach focuses on changing the patient’s negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors regarding food and weight to modify their conduct.

Binge-Eating Treatment

People with binge-eating disorders are typically treated using a combination of psychotherapy and medication, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. In more extreme cases, surgical procedures may be used to “shrink” the stomach so that patients feel full after consuming only small quantities of food.

The Role of Parents

Experts agree that parents play an essential role in identifying symptoms of eating disorders early on and getting children the help they need.

Parents should be aware of changes in their child’s eating habits, weight, or appearance (e.g., if their daughter begins wearing layers of baggy clothes even during the warm weather), as well as any unusual symptoms such as constipation, dry skin, or dental problems that might indicate malnutrition.

Parents who are concerned about whether their child is struggling with an eating disorder should consult a doctor for advice. Several treatment options will be available for your children, such as individual therapy, CBT therapy for teens, family sessions, and support groups.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, eating disorders are becoming increasingly common among teens and young adults who engage in unhealthy weight control habits, such as skipping meals or taking diet pills to attempt to lose weight. In fact, 10 in 100 young women suffer from this disorder.

However, eating disorder treatments for this are widely available for anyone suffering from an eating disorder of any kind. All it takes is one small step to get help, which can greatly impact your future physical and mental health and quality of life.

If you are a parent and your child is struggling with an eating disorder, reach out to the team at Hillside Horizon to get more information on the different treatment options available.