What it is:
Eating disorders are more than just going on a diet to lose weight or trying to exercise every day - they're extremes in eating behavior. The most common found in teens are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. People with anorexia have a real fear of weight gain and a distorted view of their body size and shape. Bulimia is slightly different, because they usually binge eat, which means that they force themselves to vomit after consuming large portions of food.
How it affects teens:
When you are anorexic your body goes into starvation mode and it affects the body in many ways: * a drop in blood pressure, pulse, and breathing rate * hair loss and fingernail breakage * loss of periods * lanugo hair — a soft hair that can grow all over the skin * lightheadedness and inability to concentrate * anemia * swollen joints * brittle bones
With bulimia, constant vomiting and lack of nutrients can cause these problems: * constant stomach pain * damage to the stomach and kidneys * tooth decay (from exposure to stomach acids) * "chipmunk cheeks," when the salivary glands permanently expand from throwing up so often * loss of periods * loss of the mineral potassium (this can contribute to heart problems and even death)
What causes it:
No one knows the exact cause of eating disorders, but most people develop eating disorders in their teenage years, which are a time of emotional and physical changes, academic pressures, and a greater degree of peer pressure.
What to do to prevent it:
In order to prevent eating disorders, you would make people fully aware of the dangerousness of this serious mental illness. Another way would be to disregard any “perfect” image of the way a person should look.
If they have it what can they do to cure it:
For severe cases, it's best to find a treatment center or hospital specializing in eating disorders where a complete program is offered, including nutritional counseling, medication, individual therapy, group and family