How do you recognize and help a teen with an eating disorder?

How do you recognize and help a teen with an eating disorder?

How do you recognize and help a teen with an eating disorder?

Teens see very skinny models on TV and touched-up pictures of celebrities online. These images are all around. And they may make teens question how they look.

While it’s normal for teens to worry about their bodies, it may put them at risk of developing an eating disorder.

Young women who have a poor self-view are at risk for eating disorders. If they diet, they may be at risk of getting an eating disorder.

Many people suffer from eating disorders. It is more common in women, especially teens.

Eating disorders are very serious because they change a person’s eating habits. An eating disorder may start when a person becomes fixated on food. Or they may worry about body weight and shape.

Some signs of common eating disorders are:

Anorexia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa

Binge Eating Disorder

  • Limiting food, leading to very low weight.
  • Great fear of gaining weight or being fat.
  • Believing one is “fatter” than they are.
  • Eating large amounts of food followed by throwing up, fasting or a lot of exercise.
  • Occurring at least once a week.
  • Believing one is “fatter” than they are.
  • Eating large amounts of food with a sense of loss of control.
  • Eating alone and faster than normal.

How do eating issues change

  • Anorexia can cause hormonal changes, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure and heart failure.
  • Bulimia can harm the throat and teeth. It can cause fluid loss and irregular heartbeat.
  • Binge eating can lead to weight gain. That raises chances of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

How can I help?
If you’re afraid that someone you care about has an eating disorder, it’s important to talk to them about it. Offer support. Offer to help them see a professional. Treatment may involve:

  • Medication
  • Therapy
  • Health care and monitoring
  • Nutritional counseling

With professional help, eating disorders can be treated. People can work toward living a long and healthy life. But they need a good support system and health care.

 Do you have any further questions about eating disorders or any other mental health conditions? Reach out to us at


  1. August 2, 2018, from
  2. Hudson, J. I., Hiripi, E., Pope, H. G., & Kessler, R. C. (2007). The prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in the national comorbidity survey replication. Biological Psychiatry, 61(3), 348–358.
  3. Le Grange, D., Swanson, S. A., Crow, S. J., & Merikangas, K. R. (2012). Eating disorder not otherwise specified presentation in the US population. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 45(5), 711-718.
  4. Smink, F. E., van Hoeken, D., & Hoek, H. W. (2012). Epidemiology of eating disorders: Incidence, prevalence and mortality rates. Current Psychiatry Reports,14(4), 406-414.
  5. Ulfvebrand, S., Birgegard, A., Norring, C., Hogdahl, L., & von Hausswolff-Juhlin, Y. (2015). Psychiatric comorbidity in women and men with eating disorders results from a large clinical database. Psychiatry Research, 230(2), 294-299.
  6. Types of Eating Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved August 5, 2018, from
  7. Goodwin, R. D., & Fitzgibbon, M. L. (2002, July). Social anxiety as a barrier to treatment for eating disorders. Retrieved August 6, 2018, from
  8. Types of Treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved August 5, 2018, from
  9. Whitaker AH. An epidemiological study of anorectic and bulimic symptoms in adolescent girls: Implications for pediatricians. Pediatr Ann. 1992;21:752–9. [PubMed]
  10. Stein DM. The prevalence of bulimia: A review of the empirical research. J Nutr Educ. 1991;23:205–13.
  11. Drewmowski A, Hopkins SA, Kessler RL. The prevalence of bulimia nervosa in the US college student population. Am J Public Health. 1988;78:1322–5. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  12. Posted under Health Guides. Updated 5 July 2016. Related Content. (n.d.). Eating Disorders: General Information. Retrieved September 7, 2018, from