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Eating Disorders and Adolescents

Are you or your child suffering from anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and other eating disorders?
Center for Discovery can help. Center for Discovery has been helping teens and adolescents with eating disorders for over 17 years. Call toll free: 1-855-324-9428.

Co-Occurring Issues with Eating Disorders

When teens and adolescents are dealing with an eating disorder, whehter anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, they are often dealing with other issues in their lives. When your teen or adolescent is dealing with multiple issues, and an eating disorder is the primary disorder, the other disorder is called a co-occurring issue. Listed below are some of the more prevalent co-occurring issues, however this list should not be considered a complete list of all possible co-occurring issues.

Substance abuse
Compulsive, and disordered eating behaviors have been associated with a high risk of substance abuse. Individuals who have a distorted body image and low self-esteem often turn to binge drinking, illicit drug use or prescription drugs as a way to cope with painful feelings. Stimulants like cocaine or meth are frequently used to promote weight loss or to purge unwanted calories after an eating binge.

Anxiety and other mood disorders
Having a mood disorder like depression or an anxiety disorder like obsessive-compulsive disorder may predispose you to compulsive, ritualistic eating patterns. People with eating disorders live with a sense of anxiety and failure about their weight, even when they become dangerously emaciated. Both mood disorders and eating disorders tend to appear or to intensify during stressful life transitions, like the loss of a parent, a divorce, or the transition into puberty. Eating disorder can also arise out of depression from a low self-esteem.

Both behaviors affect a lot of young people, and they share a lot of the same traits, such as low self-esteem, a perfectionist personality, anxiety and sometimes a history of trauma, abuse or family difficulty. There is a considerable prevalence of self-harm in people with eating disorders and is particularly high among people who engage in the binge-purge cycle of eating. For many, self-harm and an eating disorder co-exist, but for others self-harm can develop to replace an eating disorder or vice versa. This is because both conditions act as ways for an individual to cope with, block out, and release intense feelings of anger, shame, sadness, loneliness, or guilt. For some people self-harm and eating disorders could also be a type of punishment and way of expressing self-hatred towards the body. If somebody has poor self-image and is suffering with an eating disorder, they probably experience feelings of self-loathing, which in turn leads to a lack of respect for their body. This can then open the door to something like self-harm.

Research has shown that bullying can lead to eating disorders. Bullying often starts at a time when children and teens are trying to find out who they are and develop a healthy sense of self and their body. Children and teens with weight issues tend be at higher risk for bullying. Bullying can be from friends, coaches, and as subtle as teasing by family members. Bullying damages self-esteem and destroys body image, both which can make an adult or child, susceptible to developing an eating disorder. Eating disorders are often developed in order to help an individual cope with fears, anxiety, stress and sadness you as a way to numb emotions. An eating disorder provides comfort and a way for an individual to feel worthy and deal with their emotions.

Compulsive or Excessive Exercising
Compulsive or excessive exercising occurs when an individual repeatedly exercises beyond the requirements of what is considered safe. Often, the individual will miss school or work to exercise. It is not uncommon that individuals even exercise in the middle of the night. Although compulsive exercise is not always a symptom of an eating disorder, many individuals who suffer from eating disorders exercise excessively to alleviate feelings of anxiety and guilt from eating or binging. Exercising compulsively carries significant health risks, along with the health concerns associated with eating disorders. Heart complications, osteoporosis, severe dehydration, amenorrhea (loss of menstrual cycle), reproductive problems and stress fractures can result from excessive exercise. Permanent damage can also occur to muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints due to unnecessary repetition. Compulsive exercise often leads to malnourishment as vital electrolytes are lost due in large amounts to sweating.

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