Adolescent Clients With Eating Disorders
The National Eating Disorders Association reports that the prevalence of anorexia nervosa in women ages 15 to 19 has increased each decade since the 1930s. Awareness and prevention efforts aim to curb the rates of eating disorders in adolescents, but there is a strong need for effective treatment for those currently struggling.
If you have an adolescent client showing signs of an eating disorder, it is important to address the issue as early as possible. Early intervention has shown to be most effective for long-term recovery. Once rapport is built with an adolescent client, you can explore their thoughts and beliefs regarding food and body image and begin to address their distortions.
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This is our mission for people with anorexia, bulimia, binge and compulsive eating, body image issues, weight struggles and for the people who serve them.
How To Treat Eating Disorders
Therapy and counseling
There have been many positive results with therapy and counseling treatment for eating disorders. When seeking this type of treatment, a patient can choose between individual, group, or family therapy based on their specific needs. Family therapy can be especially beneficial because it is crucial that the person has a solid support system. If the person is not ready to tell friends and family about their eating disorder, they can choose individual or group therapy.
If you are just beginning therapy and counseling, you may speak with a psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, or counselor before being referred to a healthcare provider that specializes in eating disorders.
In group therapy, the patient works with an experienced counselor and other patients who are going through the same thing. This can be a beneficial form of therapy for someone who is just realizing or figuring out what they are struggling with. This is a space where people who struggle with eating disorders can hear testimonies, get advice on how to cope, and open up about their own experience. In group therapy, there is also an option to have a sponsor, who is someone to call when the patient experiences triggers and feels like they may revert back to their unhealthy eating behavior.
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Ways To Prevent Eating Disorders
Written by Casa Palmera Staff
Eating disorders and disordered eating are dangerous behaviors that hurt not only a persons health, but their self-esteem and self-worth as well. Its especially heartbreaking when eating disorders manifest at a young agethe overwhelming majority of people who have an eating disorder, more than 90%, are females between ages 12 and 25. That doesnt mean that males cant suffer from an eating disorder in fact, these disorders can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, age, race, or socioeconomic background. That is why eating disorder prevention is criticalif not treated promptly and properly, these disorders can have devastating effects.
There are signs to look for that could indicate an eating disorder. These include a strict, too-restrictive diet avoiding meals constant talk about being too fat regular use of laxatives avoiding social activities that may involve food often eating large quantities of not-as-healthy foods such as sweets loss of tooth enamel from vomiting eating secretly or consuming more food at one time than is considered normal.
Eating disorders are dangerous, complex disorders that arise from a variety of issues. One of the best ways to prevent or stop eating disorders in yourself and others is to adopt healthy attitudes and behaviors about body shape and weight. Here are eight tips from the National Eating Disorders Association on how to prevent eating disorders.
What Causes Eating Disorders
There’s no single cause for eating disorders. Genes, environment, and stressful events all play a role. Some things can increase a person’s chance of having an eating disorder, such as:
- poor body image
- too much focus on weight or looks
- dieting at a young age
- playing sports that focus on weight
- having a family member with an eating disorder
- mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, or OCD
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Encouraging A Person To Get Help
Aside from offering support, the most important thing you can do for a person with an eating disorder is to encourage treatment. The longer an eating disorder remains undiagnosed and untreated, the harder it is on the body and the more difficult it is to overcome, so urge your loved one to see a doctor right away.
A doctor can assess your loved ones symptoms, provide an accurate diagnosis, and screen for any medical problems that might be involved. The doctor can also determine whether there are any co-existing conditions that require treatment, such as depression, substance abuse, or an anxiety disorder.
If your friend or family member is hesitant to see a doctor, ask them to get a physical just to put your worries to rest. It may help if you offer to make the appointment or go along on the first visit.
Who Is At Risk For Eating Disorders
Eating disorders can affect people of all ages, racial/ethnic backgrounds, body weights, and genders. Although eating disorders often appear during the teen years or young adulthood, they may also develop during childhood or later in life .
Remember: People with eating disorders may appear healthy, yet be extremely ill.
The exact cause of eating disorders is not fully understood, but research suggests a combination of genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors can raise a persons risk.
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Run A Behavioral Experiment
Make a prediction, If I allow myself dessert four nights this week, I will gain five pounds, and run an experiment to test it out. Weigh yourself at the beginning and the end of the week. Have dessert four nights this week. Check to see if your prediction came true.
Over time, you will see that a number of beliefs are not accurate. This is another CBT approach.
When Should I Call The Doctor
You should call your healthcare provider if you have an eating disorder and you:
- Find that your relationship to food is causing you distress.
- Find that your relationship to food is getting in the way of your everyday activities.
- Have a severe sore throat or acid reflux.
- Have slurred speech or blurred vision.
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Types Of Eating Disorders
The most common eating disorders are:
Anorexia. People with anorexia starve themselves out of an intense fear of becoming fat. Despite being underweight or even emaciated, they never believe theyre thin enough. In addition to restricting calories, people with anorexia may also control their weight with exercise, diet pills, or purging.
Bulimia. Bulimia involves a destructive cycle of bingeing and purging. Following an episode of out-of-control binge eating, people with bulimia take drastic steps to purge themselves of the extra calories. In order to avoid weight gain they vomit, exercise to excess, fast, or take laxatives.
Binge Eating Disorder. People with binge eating disorder compulsively overeat, rapidly consuming thousands of calories in a short period of time. Despite feelings of guilt and shame over these secret binges, they feel unable to control their behavior or stop eating even when uncomfortably full.
How To Help Someone With An Eating Disorder
You’re already doing a great job by finding out more about eating disorders and how to try to support them it shows you care and helps you understand how they might be feeling.
Getting professional help from a doctor, practice nurse, or a school or college nurse will give your friend or relative the best chance of getting better. But this can be one of the most difficult steps for someone living with an eating disorder, so try to encourage them to seek help or offer to go along with them.
You can support them in other ways, too:
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How Do I Find A Treatment Center Or Therapist
Parents will want to research a clinic or therapist beforehand. It can be helpful to ask questions about credentials, experience, past patient outcomes, treatment strategies, how progress is measured, and insurance plans and payment options.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Hopefully, you have a wonderful treatment team in place that you can call for help and support, no questions asked. But are you also including your family and friends and giving them a chance to support you in recovery? Asking for help can be a daily process and may require you to ask for specific things that they can help you with.
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How Early Can An Eating Disorder Start
Children as young as 5-years can develop an eating disorder. In fact, research suggests that anorexia is emerging at a younger age and that the condition has increased among children between 8 and 12 years old over the past decade.
Still, the median age when anorexia and bulimia develop is 18 and the median age when binge-eating disorder develops is 21, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Don’t Insist That You Can Recover On Your Own
Research shows that people with eating disorders are more likely to recover with a specialized treatment team in place. In most cases, willpower, self-help books, and independent work cannot replace the professional guidance of a therapist, dietitian, and physician. These professionals have years of experience and training to help you on the road to recovery.
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How To Talk To Someone About Their Eating Disorder
The decision to make a change is rarely an easy one for someone with an eating disorder. If the eating disorder has left them malnourished, it can distort the way they thinkabout their body, the world around them, even your motivations for trying to help. Bombarding them with dire warnings about the health consequences of their eating disorder or trying to bully them into eating normally probably wont work. Eating disorders often fill an important role in the persons lifea way to cope with unpleasant emotionsso the allure can be strong. Since you may be met with defensiveness or denial, youll need to tread carefully when broaching the subject.
Pick a good time. Choose a time when you can speak to the person in private without distractions or constraints. You dont want to have to stop in the middle of the conversation because of other obligations! Its also important to have the conversation at a time of emotional calm. Dont try to have this conversation right after a blow up.
Explain why youre concerned. Be careful to avoid lecturing or criticizing, as this will only make your loved one defensive. Instead, refer to specific situations and behaviors youve noticed, and why they worry you. Your goal at this point is not to offer solutions, but to express your concerns about the persons health, how you much you love them, and your desire to help.
What not to do
Practical Ways You Can Help
As well as developing your own understanding, these practical ideas can help the person you’re worried about.
You could try the following:
- Include them in social activities. If they find it difficult to eat, arrange activities which dont involve food. You could watch a film, play a game or take a walk.
- Keep meal times as stress-free as possible. Don’t comment on their food choices. Let them get on with eating the food they feel able to eat.
- Find safe ways to talk about it. Some people find it helps to refer to the eating problems in the third person. Try saying things like “that’s not you, that’s the eating problem speaking”.
- Help them find good information and avoid bad sources. This could mean looking for reliable facts and trusted online support. It also means helping them avoid places online that may promote unsafe eating and exercise habits.
- It can be really helpful to read stories and accounts by people with eating problems. Especially those who are ready to think about recovery. You can find some by looking in the ‘Eating problems’ category of the Mind blogs and stories. You can find more stories and blogs at Beat.
- Encourage them to seek professional help. If they are worried about talking to their doctor, you could offer to go along with them. See our page on treatment and support for more information. Our useful contacts for eating problems lists charities and other organisations they can contact.
Family therapy for eating problems
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Symptoms Of Eating Disorders
According to the Mayo Clinic, some symptoms of anorexia include being extremely underweight, fatigued, and having low blood pressure, the erosion of tooth enamel due to vomiting, or hair loss. Individuals with eating disorders often exhibit a preoccupation with controlling their weight and exercising. Those with bulimia, according to the Mayo Clinic, may exhibit repeated episodes of eating abnormally large amounts of food in one sitting and feeling a loss of control during bingeing like they cant stop eating or control what they eat.
Individuals with BED may be obsessed with their appearance, not want to eat socially, and schedule their lives around bingeing. Their weight may fluctuate a lot and they may lose their concentration because of the uneven intake of calories. BED can lead to obesity as well as kidney and heart disease due to the rapid fluctuations in weight and stress on the internal organs.
Eating Disorders In Dancers: How To Recognize And Address Them
Millions of people around the country struggle with eating disorders each year, but theres one group of individuals that are at a higher risk for developing these conditions. Research from the Journal of the Eating Disorders Association showed that dancers are almost three times as likely to struggle with eating disorders than their peers. This number is even higher for ballerinas, who often feel pressured to remain thin. Its an unfortunate reality that many dancers battle with weight loss and eating disorders. You may think that youll never have to deal with this type of problem because your students are young or just recreational, but the prominence of eating disorders in dancers suggests otherwise. Studio owners need to educate themselves on the signs and symptoms of eating disorders in dancers, as well as on the proper way to intervene if a student is going down an unhealthy path.
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How Anxiety Can Lead To Disordered Eating
When you have an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge-eating disorder, its not unusual for you to also have another mental health issue. These problems can include depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
In fact, studies show that about two-thirds of people with eating disorders also suffer from an anxiety disorder. Of these, the most common is obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. In fact, some studies have shown that in women with anorexia nervosa, the rate of OCD is between 25% and 69%, and for women with bulimia nervosa, its between 25% and 36%.
Those who have both disorders often develop compulsive rituals connected to food, such as weighing every bit of food or cutting it into tiny pieces, using only certain silverware, cutting food symmetrically or even binge eating.
Other habits that can cause a great deal of harm are fasting or severely restricting calories, exercising for hours on end each day, and taking other actions that will prevent weight gain. Even though people who suffer from these disorders are typically underweight, they often still have an irrational fear of becoming fat.
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About the Author: Courtney Howard is the Executive Assistant for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. from San Diego State University, holds a paralegal certificate in Family Law, and is a Certified Domestic Violence Advocate. After obtaining her certification as a life coach, Courtney launched Lionheart Eating Disorder Recovery Coaching in 2015 and continues to be a passionate advocate for awareness and recovery.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
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What Is Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder , previously known as selective eating disorder, is a condition where people limit the amount or type of food eaten. Unlike anorexia nervosa, people with ARFID do not have a distorted body image or extreme fear of gaining weight. ARFID is most common in middle childhood and usually has an earlier onset than other eating disorders. Many children go through phases of picky eating, but a child with ARFID does not eat enough calories to grow and develop properly, and an adult with ARFID does not eat enough calories to maintain basic body function.
Symptoms of ARFID include:
- Dramatic restriction of types or amount of food eaten
- Lack of appetite or interest in food
- Dramatic weight loss
- Upset stomach, abdominal pain, or other gastrointestinal issues with no other known cause
- Limited range of preferred foods that becomes even more limited