Eating disorders and mental health in teenagers

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Eating disorder and mental health are two sides of the same coin. Depression leads to eating disorders and vice versa. Eating disorders among teenagers are very common. For instance, take Rache. She is a 14 years old girl. She finished her lunch in the school cafeteria. She is so upset with sudden weight gain that she went to the bathroom and forced herself to throw up. It might seem normal for starters that sometimes we throw up after eating food, but after doing for 5 to 10 times, and now it is a daily ritual for Rachel. And in the future, it will lead to serious health concerns, even death.

Jack is 16 years boy, and he was a chubby kid growing up, so he became obsessed to have an athletic body. So he started only eating salad and started running miles every day. After some time, jack became tall and thin, but he always felt tired and exhausted. One night he became severely ill with stomach pain and cramps. He was admitted to hospital and now undergoing various tests for his mystery illness.

Nowadays, millions of teenagers are affected by eating disorders, and most of them are girls. One out of every 7 girls are or were struggling with eating disorders. Of all the eating disorders cases, 90% of them are girls. Weight obsession is the main reason for this as all teenagers these days are obsessed with the perfect body.

Eating disorders can happen in many ways; some people don’t like to eat all then some do binge eating. Mainly, There are three types of eating disorders.

  1. Anorexia Nervosa - People having anorexia nervosa avoid food or eat very less amount of food. Even if they eat, they are very restrictive and selective of their food choices. Even if they are underweight, they consider themselves overweight.

Symptoms- Here are some signs and what it will lead to over a period of time.

  • Extremely restricted eating and in some cases intensive and excessive exercise
  • Extreme thinness
  • A never-ending pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a healthy and normal weight.
  • Intense fear of weight gain
  • Poor body image, a self-esteem that is heavily influenced and shaped by perceptions and projection of body weight and shape

And these symptoms over time can develop in worse cases like-

  • Thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
  • Mild anaemia and muscle wasting and weakness
  • Brittle hair and nails, dry and yellowish skin, Growth of fine hair all over the body
  • Severe constipation, Low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse
  • Damage to the structure and function of the heart
  • Drop-in internal body temperature, causing a person to feel cold all the time
  • Lethargy, sluggishness, or feeling tired all the time
  • Irregular periods delayed puberty and slow growth
  • Infertility, Brain damage, and multiorgan failure

Anorexia is a fatal eating disorder, and it can lead to sudden death. It has the most mortality rate among all eating disorders. People with anorexia often have a hard time remembering things. The thoughts and emotions they go through daily are- feeling alone, sad, or depressed, anxiety, fears about gaining weight and thoughts of hurting themselves.

  1. Bulimia Nervosa- People with bulimia often have a habit of overeating and then feeling guilty about it. After they go through with intense fasting or exercise or depends on pills. Their thought is that they are compensating for overeating. People with bulimia can be of normal weight or overweight.

Symptoms- Physical symptoms because of bulimia may include-

  • Low blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Feeling tired, weak, dizzy, or faint
  • Blood in vomit or stool
  • Tooth erosion and cavities
  • Swollen cheeks

The person having bulimia usually have emotions as -

  • low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression
  • alcohol or drug problems
  • Thoughts of hurting themselves
  1. Binge-Eating- People having binge eating disorder have no control over their eating, and they feel guilty about it. Still, they do not do anything like exercising or fasting to compensate for it, as people with bulimia do. That is why people with bulimia are overweight.

Symptoms include-

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, like 2 to 3 hours.
  • Eating fast and eating even when full or not hungry
  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Eating alone or in secret to avoid embarrassment
  • Feeling distressed, ashamed, or guilty about eating

These symptoms lead to physical problems such as-

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Fatty liver

People with binge eating disorder suffer from low self esteem and anxiety and depression. They have difficulties coping with strong emotions and to get away from that they just take it out by eating in bulk.

Cause of eating disorders-

There is no defined cause of eating disorders, As I would like to point out that there are many various factors which are responsible for it.

For example- The society where we grow up, from morning to evening we encounter things which flaunt perfect body image, but we don’t think for a second that it is real or not, and our kids get caught up in it. So it is influenced by the environment we live in. If we as responsible adults just pay a little attention to eat and teach our kids that they are perfect the way they are. So if you have a kid or any person who is around you and you feel that they are going through the same then don’t hesitate to talk to them.

Because if it is treated early, there are more chances to recover from it.

Diagnosis- Mental professionals first assess the problems and severity of it that how early or late it is. So they can prepare a meal plan with the help of a dietician and proper mental counseling.

So if you feel that you have any of the eating disorders discussed above then feel free to talk to elders, you trust and consult a doctor. It is not that difficult if you have a good support system, then it will be effortless for you to develop your self-confidence. Once you feel good in the state, you are and show love for the body you have. There is nothing in this universe that can pull you down.

Feel free to drop your suggestions and views in the comment section.

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