Sue is a thin 18-year-old ballet student whose parents are very concerned about her eating habits. Her experience with eating has escalated to the point that her mental health is at risk. The professional assistance of a psychologist or therapist is warranted.
Sue has had a very strong love of ballet since early childhood. At the age of 5, she began to attend classes in ballet and other forms of dance. Her teachers began to recognize her having exquisite talent by 8 years of age. Since 14, she has been a member of the National Ballet Company.
Teen Eating Disorder
It was at the age of 15 that her eating habits changed. When her therapists asks her about what induced the change, Julie is unable to provide any specific reason. For instance, she started to induce vomiting after meals in which she felt as though she over ate. Yet, the symptoms of a teen eating disorder actually began earlier with a string of many intense diets, encouraged by her ballet teachers.
For the last 3 years, she has also found herself binging. Which have evolved to happening once a day in the evening, followed by self-induced vomiting. She also binges late at night when her parents are already in bed, feeling the need to hide her dysfunctional eating habits.
However, just recently, Sue admitted having a problem with food, which prompted her parents to take Sue in for a psychological assessment. In the consultation she had with her therapist, she also shared the following information:
Despite being less than 120 pounds, Sue says that she feels “fat”. Her parents attest to the fact that her weight has been between 95 to 100 pounds for the last three years or so. Sue says that she exercises often and uses laxatives as a way to remove the food in her body and maintain her weight. She also admits to limiting her foods to vegetarian choices and she feels very uncomfortable eating in front of others. For this reason, she avoids social time with friends and family, which often involve food.
Her therapist has noted the fact that Sue has had only two periods since her first menstruation at age 16. In two months, Sue will graduate high school and she expects to join the Ballet Company full time. She is a very serious student who can have perfectionist tendencies. She also has very few friends and can be socially isolating. Her parents fear that once she is out of school, this will only get worse. When Sue is not attending high school, doing her homework, or dancing, she would prefer to spend her free time reading rather than with friends. Sue also disclosed that she has never dated and has had no sexual experiences.
Although Sue is forthcoming in her experiences with food, she guards her demeanor. In order to continue working with Sue, her therapist is creating a treatment plan based on the diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa, the Binge Eating/Purging Type.
To have this disorder, a teen must exhibit the following symptoms:
- · A refusal to maintain a body weight that is considered within a normal range for age and height.
- · An intense fear of gaining weight or being fat, even though the client is underweight.
- · There exists a disturbance in the way that the body is seen, such as a denial of the seriousness of a low body weight.
- · The absence of at least consecutive menstrual cycles.
There are two types of teen Anorexia Nervosa. The first is the Restricting Type, which is the absence of any binge-eating or purging behavior. The second is the teen Binge Eating/Purging Type, which is the regular occurrence of this behavior.
Hopefully, Sue will continue to attend therapy where her symptoms, and more importantly, the underlying issues of her disorder, will be addressed. In this way, she can free herself from her self-imprisonment and find the self-acceptance that will lead to healing.