Eating disorders, unfortunately, are all too common in adolescents. Puberty is a time of massive change for kids. Not only are their hormones turning on, but their bodies are also starting to change too. A beginning awareness of their interest in the opposite sex, as well as the stern judgment of their peers, can lead some hapless children into developing an eating disorder to fit in or to adapt themselves to the modern definition of ideal beauty.
You should immediately seek treatment for eating disorders in adolescents, once you’ve found out they have one. The goal is to find a setting that is most convenient and comfortable for the adolescent. You can’t underestimate the value of social networks to teens, and one reason they might resist treatment is if they think that their prolonged absence from school might cause people to hear about their eating disorder.
In large cities, there are often many clinics and intensive care centers that can help with eating disorders. While many of these can be very helpful, they are often residential programs where the adolescent is forced to stay in a hospitalization program, which is a major disruption to their regular lives. In smaller towns, they usually lack the large clinics and the wider variety of expert therapists.
So far, there is no standard practice when it comes to treatment for eating disorders in adolescents. However, most programs strongly encourage the involvement of the adolescent’s family in the treatment process. Recently, five major guidelines were released on the treatment of adolescents for eating disorders. They are the following:
1. Diagnosis––Adolescents may have significant health risks associated with dysfunctional weight control practices.
2. Treatment––It should be a lower symptom levels than for adults.
3. Nutritional Management––This should reflect the patient’s age, stage in puberty, and current physical activity level.
4. Family-based Treatment––Family should be considered an essential part of treatment of adolescents.
Assessment and Treatment of Adolescent––This should be done by a knowledgeable team of experts.
In general, an adolescent may be treated either in his or her own home, or at a local clinic. Typically, adolescents start in outpatient treatment with regular visits to both the medical and mental health providers, and then they progress to more intensive treatment once their conditions is better understood and they haven’t responded positively enough to prior treatment.
It is critical to customize the treatment plan to each individual adolescent. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment for eating disorders in adolescents. If you want to make sure to maximize the chance of helping an eating disorder victim, you have to personalize their recovery, including their diet, their exercise, and their therapy.
What some people fail to realize is that an eating disorder is as much a mental issue as it is physical. Most people recognize the problems inherent in developing an eating disorder, so it’s important to approach the problem from their mental state and work from there.
If you or an adolescent you know is suffering from an eating disorder, it is in their best interest to seek immediate professional help.