It might be difficult to tell whether your teenager is developing an eating disorder. In fact, it might slip right by you because of the ways society itself is unaware of how it contributes disordered eating. It doesn’t help that the fast-paced western lifestyle, which tends to focus on one’s exterior image versus inner beauty steadily contributes to unhealthy relationships with the body, especially for women. It might also be difficult to spot if you have suffered from a teen eating disorder yourself.
Teen Eating Disorder
Despite this, parents are often the first to notice changes in behavior and mood, which can point to a mental health concern. The following is a list of signs that might indicate a possible eating disorder. Keep in mind that if you see any of the following signs of a teen eating disorder in your child, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she has an eating disorder; it only indicates that seeking the opinion of a mental health professional could be worthwhile. Seeing any of these signs of a teen eating disorder might also warrant a psychiatric evaluation.
- Changing behavior around food
- Avoiding food or making excuses to avoid eating
- Skipping breakfast or lunch at school
- Dieting frequently
- Exercising excessively
- Changes in mood, such as sadness, depression, anger, tearfulness
- Withdrawal or isolation
- Stress or anxiety coupled with a changing relationship to food or dieting
- Perfectionism and obsession for achievement or accomplishment
- Addiction to playing sports or exercise
- Complaining of stomachaches
- Low self-esteem, body hatred, or self-hatred
Remember that one of these symptoms alone does not indicate an eating disorder. Take into consideration the full range of your child’s behavior, life circumstances, mood, and the way that he or she is responding to food and his or her body. If you feel that an evaluation or scheduling an appointment with a mental health professional is in order, it won’t hurt to get the support of a therapist or psychologist.