For some teens, eating disorders can do severe damage
The transitional time of adolescence is a difficult one to navigate. Teens are pressured to act a certain way, talk a certain, way, and above all, look a certain way. What's more, the inherent pressures placed upon teens to look good and impress their peers is sometimes too much for them to handle. Ultimately, these pressures can cause some teens to develop an eating disorder.
Eating disorders are a very severe mental illness. Unfortunately, since only 3% of teens suffer from eating disorders - a rough estimate that most experts feel may be much higher when counting those who suffer in secret - they are also a mental illness that is widely ignored. The lack of resources for the disease are deeply troublesome, however, for those who do suffer are at risk of damaging their brain, teeth, kidney, or liver. In severe cases, extreme eating habits can even prove to be fatal.
What Qualifies As An Eating Disorder?
Eating disorders are classified as any range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits. Females are two and a half times more likely to suffer from an eating disorder than males. Although less common, teenage boys can be pressured into extreme eating habits as well. Nevertheless, there is good news; Although severe and potentially fatal, eating disorders are behaviors that are highly treatable and can be reversed with proper therapeutic intervention.
The Three Most Common Eating Disorders
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Bing-eating disorder
What Can Parents Do?
If you suspect that your child is suffering from an eating disorder, it is vital to act swiftly. Approach your teen with the love and care they need by first calmly addressing the elephant in the room. Be subtle and nonjudgemental. You might choose to say something like, “I’ve noticed that you aren’t eating much at dinner anymore. Are you OK?” It is important to allow your teen to talk while you listen to everything they have to say. Lastly, tell your teen that you are there for them and that there is an abundance of treatment for their disease. Address the severity of their issue and then explain to your child that, although their condition is a serious one, there are many therapeutic treatments that can alleviate their symptoms and psychological need to suppress their eating intake.
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During adolescence, there can be a lot of pressure on teens to look and act a certain way. For some teens, these societal pressures, combined with psychological or physical factors, can lead to an eating disorder.
While somewhat uncommon, with an estimated three percent of teens affected, it’s important for parents to know the signs. Eating disorders can lead to serious damage of the brain, heart, bones, teeth, kidneys and liver, psychological distress, isolation and in severe cases, death.