You don’t hear about teen eating disorders too much in the media. It’s still not a topic that people talk about. Although the discussion has improved immensely in the last 20 years, there is a long way to go in terms of giving these teen eating disorders the attention they deserve.
Teen Eating Disorders
The problem is that the issues that give rise to these disorders are in western culture. Our society obsesses with dieting, losing weight, and having a body image that is anything but fat. Although you might think that this challenge only applies to female teens, young males also experience disturbances in their relationship to food and their body.
To be officially diagnosed with a teen eating disorder, you must meet the clinical criteria for that disorder as it is defined according the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This manual is the standard text in use by clinicians across North America, and it includes four types of eating disorders. These are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, and Binge Eating Disorder. The two most common of these teen eating disorders, Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, are presented below:
To have a professional diagnose this disorder, a teen must exhibit the following symptoms:
- A refusal to maintain a body weight that is within a normal range for age and height.
- An intense fear of gaining weight or being fat, even though the client is underweight.
- When looking at their body, their is a disturbance, 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 Anorexia Nervosa:
- The first is the Restricting Type, which is the absence of any binge-eating or purging behavior.
- The second is the Binge Eating/Purging Type, which is the regular occurrence of this behavior.
Those with this disorder often begin with an intense desire to lose weight, which transforms into a morbid fear of gaining weight, to the point of endangering their life. Being thin is a way of exerting power and control, which becomes the most crucial and necessary task for survival, despite the fact that they are harming their body and losing their life as a result.
Sadly, the most prevalent occurrence of anorexia nervosa is among adolescent girls than in any other segment of the population.
To have a professional diagnose with this disorder, a teen must exhibit the following symptoms:
- Recurrent episodes of binge eating. It’s eating a large amount of food in a short amount of time. Along with a strong lack of control and feelings of not being able to stop eating.
- Behavior that attempts to compensate for the overeating such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, frequent fasting, or excessive exercise.
There are two types of Bulimia Nervosa. The first is the Purging Type, which is the regular occurrence of this behavior . It’s a way to compensate for the binge eating. The second is the absence of purging but uses other forms of compensatory behavior.
In the initial stages of this disorder, the compensatory behavior, such as binging, is a way to ease the guilt from having eaten so much food. However, later it becomes a method of mood regulation.
Sadly, the rate of occurrence of these teen eating disorders is only increasing. The high rate of occurrence is partly due to the fact that the underlying issues in western culture have yet to be addressed, examined, and healed.