Teenagers often have strong emotional reactions accompanied by feelings of being frustrated, overwhelmed, moody, tired, and angry. As a parent, how can you tell if physical and psychological stressors have led your teen to resort to eating disorders?
Many teens, concerned about their health, weight, and appearance may become fixated with diet and exercise and develop an eating disorder. The exact cause of eating disorders is unknown. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), risk factors for all eating disorders involve a range of biological, psychological, and sociocultural issues. Teenage girls and young women are more likely than teenage boys and young men to have anorexia or bulimia, but males can have eating disorders as well.
Teenage boys concerned about their body image may strive for a perfect body by dieting or exercising compulsively. Kristin Francis, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist and assistant professor for the Huntsman Mental Health Institute at the University of Utah, lends her expertise to detecting and diagnosing eating disorders, suicide, and common triggers in teenagers. Francis notes, “Teen boys often feel pressure to build muscle and may use supplements to build muscle mass or to be ‘lean.’”