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Eating Disorders

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.

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 three disorders that are the most devastating and the most difficult to treat are Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder.

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.

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.

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.

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. There are several different levels of treatment for adolescents and teens dealing with eating disorders.

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 for both the adolescent and their families.

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