Teens And Eating Disorders

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As we were all teenagers at one time, that is if you are twenty years of age or older today, you know that the teenage years are full problems, peer pressure, stress and the desire to fit in. It is not surprising then, with all of the peer pressure and images from the media, as well as the strong desire to fit in, that eating disorders are most common among teenagers.

1. Eating disorders are known to be the result of a poor self image and/or an unhealthy relationship to food. Most people think of eating disorders as something that affects girls and young women who are dieting. The truth is that these disorders have to do with our relationship to food and issues related to body image and self-esteem, and not just our desire to to loss some weight.

While most people only think anorexia and bulimia when it comes to eating disorders, there are less well-known eating disorders as well, nocturnal eating, pica and binge eating are also characterized by an unhealthy relationship to food and eating. In fact, all eating disorders have one common denominator: an ongoing and unhealthy relationship with food that becomes a disruption in a person’s life.

2. Eating disorders generally affect young women, although they can affect just about anyone, middle aged women and even men. It is estimated that more than 8 million people in the United States are affected with some kind of eating disorder. While those with disorders come from all social and ethnic backgrounds, studies have suggested that young affluent white women are more susceptible to developing an eating disorder.

Most disorders first become evident during adolescence and can develop in young children and pre-teens. When it come to men and doctors report eating disorders among men is increasing, it seems to be most common with athletes who want to and/or feel pressure to compete as they are vulnerable to developing a disorder.

3. These disorders can emerge during periods of stress and change. Doctors don’t yet fully understand why eating disorders are present in some individuals, and not others. But they do have an understanding about the circumstances that may make some people more vulnerable to developing an eating disorder.

Studies have shown that individuals who are experiencing stress, depression, or who have recently experienced some kind of major life change are much more vulnerable to developing the symptoms of an eating disorder.

4. Eating disorders can cause a variety of serious health problems. Many teenagers who become preoccupied with food, body image, and exercise do not understand the health risks posed by their actions.

These health problems include heart problems, stomach problems, irregular menstrual periods, kidney problems, dental problems, hormonal disturbance, dehydration and dry skin, to name just a few. Intervention and hospitalization may become necessary in more severe cases.

5. All of these can be treated successfully. Now more than ever there is a better understanding of eating disorders, and many treatment options and resources are available for teenagers and their families whose lives have been touched by an eating disorder.

Treatment consists of various therapies, including nutritional therapy, psychotherapy, and family and individual counseling. Sometimes prescription drugs are used to treat underlying problems. For instance, antidepressants may be prescribed.

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