Growing up is never straightforward. Especially in this day and age where hyperconnectivity, superficial comparison and intense competition seem to be the norm.
It’s enough to make you look back with fleeting nostalgia at the “simpler” times that may have defined your teenage years, especially if you’re seeing your child battle an eating disorder today, which tend to appear most frequently during the teen and young adult years.
Frustratingly, there is no singular cause to why they emerge, the complexity of the mental challenge equaled by how it comes to be in the first place. Through an interplay of many factors like psychological and emotional issues, biological and genetic reasons as well as environmental matters like how our culture tends to worship being thin, eating disorders occur. When they do, they’re twice as prevalent among females than as males.
What Is an Eating Disorder?
Eating disorders are serious and potentially life-threatening medical illnesses and mental disorders. They can devastate the physical and mental health of those going through them as well as relationships and work or school productivity.
In general, they’re characterized by severe disturbances in a person’s eating behavior in addition to a fixation on their shape or body weight.
The most common eating disorders are binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa.
As per the National Institute on Mental Health, those are defined as:
Binge Eating Disorder
Losing control over his or her eating. Unlike bulimia nervosa, periods of binge-eating are not followed by purging, excessive exercise, or fasting. As a result, people with binge-eating disorder often are overweight or obese.
Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the U.S.
Recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over these episodes. This binge-eating is followed by behavior that compensates for the overeating such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors. People with bulimia nervosa may be slightly underweight, normal weight, or overweight.
They see themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight. People with anorexia nervosa typically weigh themselves repeatedly, severely restrict the amount of food they eat, often exercise excessively, and/or may force themselves to vomit or use laxatives to lose weight
Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder.
Signs My Teen Is Struggling With an Eating Disorder
If you suspect your teen has an eating disorder, it’s critical that you know what they might look like. Signs vary for each of the 3 listed above, but broadly speaking these are symptoms to pay attention for:
Signs of Binge Eating Disorder
- Eating unusually large amounts of food
- Eating fast during binges
- Eating when not hungry
- Eating in secret
- Feeling guilty about eating
- Dieting frequently but not losing weight
Signs of Bulimia Nervosa
- Eating abnormally large amounts of food
- Going to the bathroom directly after meals
- Compulsively exercising
- Fasting between binges
- Forcing themselves to vomit
- Acid reflux, gastrointestinal issues
- Intestinal issues and irritation
- Constant sore throat from throwing up
- Worn enamel on teeth, decaying or sensitive teeth from exposure to stomach acid
- Noticing packaging for diet pills, laxatives, diuretics or emetics (substances that cause a person to vomit)
Signs of Anorexia Nervosa
- Extreme weight loss
- Distorted body image
- Extremely thin or emaciated
- Fear of gaining weight
- Feeling cold constantly
- Dry and yellowish skin
- Absence of menstruation/periods
- Low blood pressure
- Brittle hair and nails
Reach Out to Us Today at Multi Concept Recovery
If you suspect your child is suffering from one of these, it’s imperative to dig in further and not just hope for the best. Know that there are options and teen eating disorder treatment is one that can work wonders.
Reach out to us at Multi Concept Recovery if you think this is affecting your son or daughter, the call costs nothing but could change their life.