A HIDDEN DISEASE
Teenage eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and bulimia, are complex mental health conditions that come with serious health risks. Teens drastically alter eating habits due to many factors, such as fear of gaining weight, a desire to maintain control, or any number of reasons which may or may not be related to a seperate primary diagnosis. Prolonged teen eating disorders can have a devastating effect on health and can even lead to death. The importance of monitoring teens for eating disorders cannot be overstated. Researching treatment options for your teen’s eating disorder, and knowing when to seek help, is crucial to ensure long-lasting recovery. Through proper treatment provided by a certified team of mental health professionals, medical and nutritional restoration is possible.
While Polaris Teen does not treat eating disorders as a primary diagnosis, we are here to consult with you regarding possible alternative treatment options. We are equipped to evaluate the teen in your life suffering from such a condition in order to determine if the eating disorder is indeed the primary diagnosis or if it is a secondary issue caused by another root behavioral health issue which can be treated at our facility. If it is determined that the eating disorder is indeed the primary issue as opposed to a secondary disorder, we will work with you in order to refer you to an appropriate eating disorder treatment facility.
– Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
– Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents.
– Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.
– 50-80% of developing anorexia or bulimia is genetic.
– An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male
Unfortunately, many parents don’t realize their teen has an eating disorder until symptoms are obvious. It’s difficult to recognize the signs early on. This is because teens hide eating disorders from family, friends, and even doctors. For example, many teens with eating disorders do well in school, obey their parents, and have a healthy social life. They maintain the illusion of a happy, fulfilled life. But, in reality, they are constantly struggling to maintain the unachievable standards set for themselves.
As teenagers experience change—chemically, biologically, socially, and cognitively—they are at-risk for eating disorders. If left undiagnosed or untreated, eating disorders can be incredibly dangerous. Fortunately, while they may not always be easy to cope with, there are solutions and answers available.
CAUSES OF EATING DISORDERS
Eating disorders occur in teenagers who believe they need to lose weight or aren’t happy with their body image. Whether they are medically right or wrong, they do not want to or understand how to lose weight the healthy way. The development of an eating disorder is a complicated process. Not only does it affect teens physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. When left untreated, eating disorders can inflict an incredible amount of damage.
There is no singular event that triggers an eating disorder in teenagers. Contributing factors include expectations made by peers or the desire to meet an impossible beauty standard. A lack of self-esteem, hormone imbalances, genetics, and many others are also possible factors. If you believe your teenager is suffering from an eating disorder, don’t wait and hope it goes away. The sooner you find help, the easier it is for them to fully recover and return to their normal health.
THE RISE IN EATING DISORDERS
Unfortunately, teen easting disorder statistics show that they are on the rise. Both young men and women suffer from this challenging disorder. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANRED), over 80 million people in the United States suffer from eating disorders. This includes anorexia nervosa, bulimia, Body Dysmorphia, binge-eating, and others. Additionally, anorexia and bulimia primarily affect teenagers. ANRED provides an action plan and answers to frequently asked questions for those with loved ones suffering from eating disorders here. The most important step you can take is getting help for the individual with the eating disorder as fast as possible. And, in the case of your child’s doctor or counselor advising hospitalization, to do so immediately.
There are a wide variety of diagnosable eating disorders that are common in teenagers. But the two most common are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia is characterized by an individual’s deliberate refusal to eat or decrease the amount they eat. They may be focused on calorie consumption and obsess over body weight. In extreme cases, using laxatives to lose weight is common as well. They are obsessed with food and are usually very thin. Fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, thin and breaking hair, loss of menstruation, dehydration, constipation, and osteoporosis are also common. They may be depressed and lose interest in their friends or regular activities. The individual may skip meals, eat only foods that are low in calories, avoid eating in public, and are obsessed with their image. This teen eating disorder is caused by biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Theoretically, some people are genetically predisposed towards perfectionism. Those who have higher levels of anxiety and are obsessive are more likely to have teen eating disorders. Lastly, thinness is prized in many cultures. It is associated with beauty and perfection. This may be the cause of teen eating disorders.
Bulimia is characterized by either normal or excessive eating behaviors. Followed by an individual’s deliberate expulsion of their food (most often through vomiting). Studies show that up to 4% of certain populations will suffer from anorexia in their lifetimes. And up to 2% will suffer from bulimia, though the exact figures vary significantly by study. When bulimics binge they often do so in secret, and the act is replete with guilt. People with this kind of teen eating disorders are usually of average weight or overweight. Those with this type of teen eating disorder may be dehydrated, experience kidney failure and/or heart failure. They may have tooth decay, gum disease, absent or irregular menstruation, digestive problems, constipation, anxiety, or depression. Substance abuse combined with an eating disorder can result in suicide or death.
An individual with binge eating disorder consumes large amounts of food in an uncontrollable manner. These people will eat even when they’re not hungry and feel uncomfortable when full. They are often depressed, disgusted, ashamed or guilty about eating. Unlike bulimia, those with a binge eating disorder won’t compensate for the act of overeating. Restricting diet can resulting in additional binging. This disease has many causes, including family history, psychological issues, dieting, and age. Hereditary factors for teen eating disorders are significant. It could be a matter of nature or nurture. Psychological issues may include other disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder. Many binge eaters have a history of failed dieting.
Teens have become adept at hiding their eating disorders. And it is important for parents to know the warning signs of the two most common teen eating disorders. The most significant of which are:
- Inability to stop eating
- Secrecy surrounding eating–Wanting to eat in privacy
- Eating unusually large amounts of food with no obvious change in weight
- Disappearance of food, numerous empty wrappers or food containers in the garbage, or hidden stashes of junk food
- Rarely eats normal meals. It’s all-or-nothing when it comes to food
- Dieting despite being thin
- Obsession with calories, fat grams, and nutrition
- Pretending to eat or lying about eating
- Preoccupation with food
- Strange or secretive food rituals
To stop the eating disorder cycle, parents and teens need help from an experienced, reputable teen rehab facility. One answer is to locate teen eating disorder treatment centers with experience in working with the specific adolescent mental health category of eating disorders.
Differences Among Genders
Anorexia—along with bulimia—is statistically found to be more common in girls than in boys. But it does exist amongst all genders. Studies show that in western countries (North American and European), 0.3% of boys and 4.3% of girls will suffer from anorexia at some point in their lifetime. Just because anorexia is less common in boys than it is in girls, does not mean you should dismiss it as a possibility. No matter what gender your teenager is, you should be aware of their eating behaviors. Ensure they are developing healthy habits and offer unconditional support along the way.
These same myriad studies have concluded that anorexia is more common in girls. This is because girls are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem in their developmental years. Furthermore, girls deal with issues related to body dysmorphia, social pressures to conform, and various other risk factors. Lastly, the influence of impossible beauty standards forced upon young girls by the media make them especially vulnerable to anorexia.
Both result in rapid and unhealthy weight loss. Eating disorders are particularly common in teenage populations. Largely because of their extreme changes in hormones and their likelihood to suffer from low self-esteem and body dysmorphia. Basically, the way in which they visually perceive themselves is obscured.
POLARIS CAN HELP
Polaris Teen Center is a mental health treatment center that provides a safe haven for healing and growth for adolescents suffering from eating disorders. Our individualized approach to treating mental health conditions addresses the presenting symptoms while simultaneously concentrating on the deeper issues that may be at hand. This innovative strategy is an important way of paving the road for a successful and strong recovery.
Our residential facilities provide an environment that supports healing within the whole family. This is done by involving parents and loved ones in the treatment process.
Polaris Teen Center offers individualized care because our residential capacity is limited. This decision provides you or your loved one with the best quality care possible. Our Residential Program has the ability to provide therapy and treatment for a range of mental health issues and disorders. Even though our facility is prepared to address a variety of disorders, we have the same goal for each of our individual patients. We strive to represent a source of strength and support for both the patient and the patient’s family and loved ones. It is our mission to help the client heal and grow through essential social interaction and family dynamics, while addressing the root cause of their disorder. As a highly focused adolescent program, our team develops an invaluable awareness of the unique qualities of each person and adjusts to individual needs.