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Symptoms and Treatment of Teen Eating Disorders | XL Health Blog

Symptoms and Treatment of Teen Eating Disorders

Posted on 09. Jan, 2014 by in Eating Disorders

The three most common eating disorders – anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating – have become issues for a startling number of teens in the United States.  In fact, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, more than half of teenage girls and a third of teenage boys use harmful behaviors to lose weight.  Recognizing the symptoms early is crucial to getting your teen eating disorder treatment.

Teens with anorexia have inaccurate body images, believing they are fat even when alarmingly thin.  Losing weight becomes an obsession, even though most anorexics will deny that this is a problem.  Other symptoms of anorexia include anxiety or depression, excessive dieting or secretive eating habits, a fixation with exercise, extreme fear of gaining weight, and rapid weight loss.  Approximately one in ten cases of anorexia ends in death.

Bulimia is sometimes harder to recognize because teens are more likely to stay within a normal weight range.  Bulimic teens may be depressed or anxious, have secretive or unusual eating habits, and obsessions with food and exercise, as well as abusing drugs or alcohol, having mood swings, and stressing about physical appearances.  Eating too much at once and then attempting to lose weight by vomiting or using laxatives is common, as well as the use of diet pills and enemas.  These can cause low potassium levels in the blood, which can trigger dangerous, abnormal heart rhythms.

Like bulimia, binge eating involves eating large amounts of food in a short time.  Inability to deal with emotions such as anger, worry, stress, or sadness may cause the binge, and the binges may in turn cause depression.  Binge eaters are in danger of obesity, with weight-attendant health issues like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Getting your teen eating disorder treatment early is critical to keep them from developing permanent health damage.  Long-term treatments for any eating disorder may include psychotherapy to determine underlying causes, behavioral therapy, antidepressants, and support groups.  In the case of anorexia, the first priority goal is to get the teen back to a healthy weight and to develop healthy eating habits.  Nutritional counseling is often recommended for teens with bulimia or binge eating issues.  If you notice your teen displaying symptoms such as those discussed above, seek help from a health professional immediately and visit TeenEatingDisorderTreatment.net.

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