Teenage is a phase in one’s life that is characterized by many challenges, both on a physical as well as emotional level. These challenges tend to impact the behavior of teens. As a result, in extreme cases, behavior disorder modification becomes a necessity for treatment of a particular condition. Amongst others, looking good and being physically fit is one of the topmost priorities for a teenager, especially for girls who are being constantly reminded of thin supermodels and that ‘thin is in’. This makes the teenagers conscious of what they are eating. And in some cases, this reaches an extreme situation of what is called as eating disorder. An eating disorder is defined as an obsession with food and weight, which harms the well being of a person and hence calls for a behavior disorder modification to correct this condition. According to the statistic released by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, it is estimated that about 1% of teenagers in US suffer from this condition and of these only 10% are males. It spans through all income groups and may manifest even at a very low age of eight years.
Eating disorder is classified into two categories, anorexia and bulimia. A teenager affected by anorexia is obsessed with being thin. This result in refusal to eat since that will lead to increase in weight. Also, such teens start counting the calories in food. On the other hand, teens affected with bulimia will eat a lot of food at a time and then throw it up, the objective again being not to gain weight and become fat. This too is a compulsive disorder.
There is no single reason that has been directly linked to eating disorder in teens. It is postulated that manifestation of this condition may result from an obsession with becoming thin, being in a state of depression or anxiety or it could even be genetic. Whatever the reason, it is crucial to identify this condition at the beginning since an eating disorder can lead to stomach problems, irregular periods or no periods in females, dry and scaly skin, anemia, swelling in joints, heart problems and kidney problems. If this situation is not identified and corrected, it may lead to malnutrition and can become life threatening.
How does one identify the condition of eating disorder in teens? Since weight loss can be a result of another disease condition, it is important to simultaneously look out for other warning signs. A teen with an eating disorder will have an obsessive concern about the current body weight, will always count the calories that he or she is consuming, will deny feeling hungry, over-exercise, throw up after meals and may even use diet pills and laxatives to lose weight. Such teens also try and avoid social interactions.
So if you think that your teen is showing similar signs, it is important that you seek immediate medical help on behavior disorder modification for treating your teen. The most important factor in treating an eating disorder is to identify and address the problem as soon as possible. Eating disorder in teens affects both mind and the body and hence this is not something that you will be able to sort out alone with your teen. It is prudent to seek immediate medical help since therapy and counseling are the crucial elements of treating an eating disorder. It will involve the expertise of medical doctor, mental health professional and nutritionists.