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Teen Eating Disorder Treatment


Are you or your child suffering from anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and other eating disorders?

The Center for Discovery can help. Center for Discover has been helping teens and adolescents with eating disorders for over 17 years. Call toll free: 866-458-5441


I. What is a Teen Eating Disorder?

Teenagers and adolescents are notoriously concerned about their appearance. How many times has a young person considered a facial blemish an earth-shattering event? But no matter how devastated they appear to be, somehow the next day they bounce back (after copious amounts of Clearasil perhaps) as if nothing had ever happened. Sometimes, however, they don't bounce back. Sometimes no matter how good they look, how thin they are, they just don't seem to see that reality. They may be part of the 3 - 4% of the female and 1% of the male population that suffers from an eating disorder. The three prevalent disorders are Bulimia, Anorexia, and Binge Eating Disorder

Eating disorders are serious and a are cause for concern. Bulimia and anorexia have the highest mortality rates of any psychological disease.

An eating disorder is a coping strategy that an individual uses to deal with deeper problems that are too painful or difficult to address directly.
There are many forms that an eating disorder can take. The two disorders that are the most devastating and the most difficult to treat are Bulimia and Anorexia.

Bulimia Nervosa is defined as a disorder in which there are frequent episodes of binge eating (eating large amounts of food in a rapid fashion) followed by the purging of that food (binge and purge). Purging involves vomiting, the use of laxatives, and the use of diuretics. After each binge and purge, the bulimic feels remorse, shame, and guilt. They are usually very secret about this behavior.

Anorexia Nervosa is a disorder in which there is intensive preoccupation with weight and thinness, food and dieting. Anorexics fear fat. This preoccupation with fear leads to excessive weight loss.

Binge Eating Disorder is also called compulsive overeating. This, like bulimia is often kept secret. Unlike bulimia, no purging is involved. People with this disorder also hold great shame and guilt.

For all eating disorders, preoccupation with food, weight and appearance can mask greater psychological problems. Psychological theories state that people with eating disorders use food and their bodies as a means for control over themselves and possibly others. In some cases this is because they believe they are out of control of other aspects of their life.

II. What are the Symptoms of Eating Disorders?

Some of the symptoms of Anorexia are: Loss of a significant amount of weight and continues to lose weight, intense fear of 'fat' or weight gain, loss of menstrual periods, preoccupation with food and food related subjects, hair loss, cold hands, feet and extremities, fainting, compulsive exercising, lying (mostly about food), depression and anxiety.

Some symptoms of Bulimia are: uncontrollable eating (binging), fasting, over zealous exercise, laxative and/or diuretic abuse, using bathroom after meals, preoccupation with body weight, depression, feeling out of control, swollen glands, irregular menstrual periods, weakness, dental problems, sore throat, weakness.

Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder include: Episodes of binge eating, eating when not hungry, very frequent dieting, feelings of being out of control, depression, shame, antisocial behavior, obesity.

III. How are Eating Disorders diagnosed?

A series of checklists that cover behavior and outward symptoms like those outlined above is given to both the caregivers and the person who is exhibiting those symptoms. Diagnosis is made by a professional diagnostician, but you can take these quizzes to further help you determine whether or not your child is suffering from an Eating Disorder.

IV. How are Eating Disorders treated?

On a basic level, the most successful treatment for eating disorders is an integrated program of behavior modification, cognitive therapy and psychological intervention.
In the more serious phases of the disorders, there can be serious medical consequences. Medication is given to address these consequences. These consequences include: For Anorexia, some of the medical consequences are bone and mineral loss, low body temperature, low blood pressure, slowed metabolism, and irregular heartbeat that can lead to cardiac arrest. Bulimia can lead to dehydration, damage to organs kidney, liver and bowels, and irregular heartbeat that can lead to cardiac arrest. Among the medical consequences of Binge Disorder are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, gall bladder disease, and heart disease.
Depending on the stage of the disorder, patients are treated on either an outpatient or inpatient basis. Upon recovery, there are support groups and 12-step programs available to both the patient and their families.

More information on Behavior Modification

More information on Cognitive Therapy

Professionals to Seek Out

  1. See your physician or pediatrician
  2. Consult with your clergy to assist in spiritual
    and practical guidance
  3. Consult with an educational consultant to help you
    find the right program for your child.
  4. Consult with a therapist or counselor.
  5. Consult with an Educational Advocate to help you
    with your current school situation
  6. Consult with an Educational Consultant to find the
    right program for your child.

Find out more about Educational Consultants


  1. Inpatient: hospitalization
  2. Outpatient Facilities
    Outpatient facilities have therapeutic staff on-hand to offer therapy and support to patients on a part-time basis.
  3. Day Treatment
  4. Residential Programs

a. Emotional Growth School
Emotional Growth schools are highly structured environments that stress academics and teach coping skills through the use of conflict resolution. Children learn they can make choices and learn to accept responsibility through the use of modeling behavior and outdoor therapy. The length of stay is between 9 and 18 months, at which time they either return to the mainstream or attend a boarding school, if possible. Parents are involved with the school staff and the children throughout the child's attendance at the school.
Find out more about Outdoor Therapy

b. Therapeutic Residential Boarding School
These schools are usually fully accredited schools with emotional growth programs. They stress holistic education: growth of the person through holding children responsible for their actions. There is no rehabilitation or physicians on staff.

c. Therapeutic Wilderness Program
A Therapeutic Wilderness program does not necessarily have academics; their goal can be to introduce the children to a different role. These programs use Outdoor Therapy to help build low self-esteem. They make obtainable goals for them to reach. The programs vary but they are about 6 to 8 weeks long. It is a very structured program with a goal of teaching the children coping skills and raising their self-esteem. Children go from this program to mainstream back into their public school or attend a small structured boarding school.
Find out more about Therapeutic Wilderness Programs

d. Residential Treatment School
A Residential Treatment Program or School provides a full professional staff that includes therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. They also have a small academic program. Many of the children in the program have been recommended there by mental health agencies that make the placements. It is a highly structured environment whose emphasis is on treatment and learning coping skills and independent living. Chemical dependence education and rehabilitation is also provided. Outdoor therapy is sometimes used to facilitate building social skills and self-esteem. Recovery programs are also available. Residential Treatment schools are secure schools.
Find out more about Residential Treatment Schools

Which program is right for my child?




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