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Teenagers and Eating Disorders

Teenagers and Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can affect individuals of all ages. However, it appears that teenagers tend to be the most vulnerable towards developing an eating disorder. This article will discuss the various eating disorders that teenagers can suffer from, their causes, and treatments.

Eating Disorders That Teenagers Suffer From

The most common eating disorders that teenagers suffer from include anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa, also known as anorexia, is an eating disorder where the individual restricts their food intake to an extreme. The characteristic that an individual who has anorexia nervosa is that this individual has a fear of gaining weight, therefore eats very little, exercises excessively, forcibly vomit themselves and/or use laxatives, and will find excuses to fast.

In contrast, bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder where the individual eats excessively. Those suffering from bulimia nervosa have been known to eat items that were still frozen, thrown in the trash or raw and/or eating lots of junk food. Even though those suffering from bulimia nervosa eat excessively, they also have a grave fear of gaining weight. Therefore, like those suffering from anorexia nervosa, will exercise excessively, forcibly vomit themselves and/or use laxatives to help negate the calories they take in.

Another common eating disorder is binge eating. Binge eating is an eating disorder when the individual eats an excessive amount of food, but does not do anything to compensate for it as those suffering from bulimia or anorexia do.

The Leading Causes and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

There is no exact cause that leads to eating disorders, nor is it really known why teenagers are vulnerable to having one. What is known, however, are the characterizations of an individual with an eating disorder, the symptoms and the statistics.

Within the United States alone, 10 in 100 young women will suffer from a particular eating disorder. Normally young girls between the ages of eleven and eighteen, and young women between the ages of 18 through 30 will have an eating disorder. Young men and boys suffer from eating disorders, as do children of both genders, however this is very rare.

The characterization of an individual who suffers from an eating disorder varies for each individual and the disorder he or she is suffering from. However, one thing that every individual who suffers from an eating disorder is that they fear the idea of gaining weight. There are cases of those who have an eating disorder who are already very skinny, are of a normal and/or healthy weight and obese, so the characteristics really seem to lie in personality. A teenager most likely to suffer from anorexia nervosa, for example, will be an individual who is a high achiever and a perfectionist with low self-esteem, and wants control of his or her life. An individual most likely to suffer from bulimia nervosa and/or binge eating feels out of control, especially in regards body image, hates his or her body image and is secretive about eating habits. Binge eaters and suffers of bulimia normally binge in secret, will have extreme diet habits from eating low-fat items to high-calorie foods, and will refrain from social events involving food.

The symptoms of a teenager suffering from an eating disorder varies according to the type of eating disorder the individual has. For example,a teenager might look very thin and emaciated if he or she is suffering from anorexia and will deliberately control food portions to prevent food portions, feel cold a lot, depressed and lethargic. A teenager suffering from bulimia will also feel depressed, however it will be because that individual is dreadfully unhappy with his or her body shape, image and size. Suffers of bulimia will often buy and hide food excessively and make excuses to go to the bathroom right after meals. General symptoms for all eating disorders include dizziness, fatigue, constipation, weakness, irritability, insomnia, inability to concentrate, and menstrual irregularities for girls.

Several factors could drive a teenager to adopt an eating disorder. First, favorite activities that might require a particular body weight and shape is desired. Second, social pressure dictated by bullies, idealized beauty based on celebrities, and social fads might lead a teenager to adopt an eating disorder. Third, low self-esteem related to weight loss, weight gain and body image could cause a teenager to begin an eating disorder. Fourth, certain biological and/or personality traits could cause a teenager to adopt an eating disorder.

Treatment for An Eating Disorder

In order to treat an eating disorder, a teenager will need to see a doctor, a psychiatrist and a nutritionist. Together, these three specialists will help the teenager adopt a healthy diet and exercise regime, and obtain the medication and therapy needed to return the individual back into good standing and health. If the eating disorder has gone on long term, the teenager being treated for it might also need to be treated for anemia, bone loss, tooth decay, digestive problems, heart problems, depression and seizures. Either way, once a teenager has been diagnosed with an eating disorder, he or she will need to undergo treatment immediately to prevent long-term damage and more serious disorders that could spawn from the eating disorder.

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