The Signs of a Teenage Eating Disorder
Eating disorders affect nearly five million Americans. Many of those affected are teenagers and even more are girls. Disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating can strike our most hard working and intelligent children and they do so during a delicate period of mental, emotional, and physical development.
Parents of young girls must be aware of the causes, signs, and symptoms of these diseases in order to catch them and secure proper treatment for their children. Without help, affected individuals can do permanent damage to their bodies in a misguided attempt to self medicate. Worst of all, they can wind up killing themselves as a result of the disorder and its effects on their bodies.
Common Eating Disorders
There are three main types of eating disorder at the moment. These are:
* Anorexia Nervosa-this disorder is characterized by a rigid control of food intake that results from an obsession with becoming thinner.
* Bulimia Nervosa-this disorder is characterized by a weight control through vomiting and abuse of laxatives. It often involves a cycle of binging and purging.
* Binge Eating Disorder-this disorder is characterized by a cycle of self-denial, followed by a cycle of binge eating.
In all three cases, the problem lies somewhere other than physical weight. The affected individual's obsession with their weight and appearance is an outgrowth of a deeper psychological problem. It is a self critical, self-punishing response to a very real problem in the sufferer's life. Once the disease takes hold, however, it will take on a life of its own and continue even if the initial trigger resolves.
What to Look for in Your Teen
The outward signs of an eating disorder are usually something that your child will try to camouflage and hide from you. Still, they can be very noticeable. If you are worried about your child's eating habits, look for signs that they are obsessed with their weight and appearance. Pay attention to sudden or dramatic weight loss. Other signs include:
* Throwing up after meals
* Use of medicines to avoid weight gain
* Lying about eating
* Not wanting to eat
* Odd food behavior including avoiding meals and hiding food
* Excessive exercise
* Lack of periods
* Unexplained scars on the knuckles
* Stomach problems
* Hear problems
* Kidney problems
* Dental problems
* Dry, scaly skin
If you have reason to be concerned about a potential eating disorder, then contact a doctor immediately. Do not try to take on a problem of this magnitude by yourself. You could do more harm than good. Instead, allow your doctor to suggest a qualified professional who can help you and your child cope with this disorder. Doctors and hospitals can help to treat the physical effects of an eating disorder, but you can only get to the bottom of the problem with proper counseling and support. Curing an eating disorder is possible, but it is a delicate and long-term process.
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