Childhood Problems
Eating Disorders

Overeating due to tension, poor nutritional habits and food fads are common eating problems in youngsters. Two psychiatric eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia, are on the increase among teenage girls and young women and often run in families. Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia are characterized by a preoccupation with food and a distortion of body image. Unfortunately, many teenagers hide these serious and sometimes fatal disorders from their families and friends.

Signs of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia

A teenager with anorexia nervosa is typically a perfectionist and a high achiever at school. Simultaneously, he/ she also suffers from low self-esteem, irrational belief that he/ she is fat, irrespective of his/ her actual condition. The teenager with anorexia nervosa experiences a sense of control over his/ her life only when he/ she says "no" to the normal food demands of her body. The boy/ girl starves him/ herself, in a relentless pursuit to be thin. This in many cases results in serious damage to the body, and in a few even may lead to death.

A Bulimia patient binges on huge quantities of high-caloric food and/ or purges his/her body of dreaded calories by self-induced vomiting and use of laxatives. These binges may alternate, resulting in dramatic weight fluctuations. Teenagers may hide signs of throwing up by keeping the tap open while spending long periods of time in the bathroom. This presents a serious threat to the patient's health, including dehydration, hormonal imbalance, the depletion of important minerals, and damage to vital organs. Treatment of eating disorders usually requires a team approach; including individual therapy, family therapy, physician, nutritionist, and medication. Research shows that early identification and treatment leads to more favorable outcomes.

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