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Teen Eating Disorder Treatment

Teen Eating Disorders: What Are They? Does My Son/Daughter Have an Eating Disorder?

Teen eating disorders affect many adolescents and youth, determining if they have an eating disorder, and how to address it is not an easy task for parents and loved ones. Eating disorders in teens may be mild or extreme and can easily go undetected by adults. For teens and young adults, there are many challenges as they undergo changes to their physical appearance, struggle to feel comfortable in their bodies, and feel pressured to look a certain way by classmates, school, the media, and the internet. Disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia can have serious effects and consequences for youth struggling with them. There are also serious and often fatal illnesses that are associated with severe disturbances in adolescents’ eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. Preoccupation with food, body weight, and shape may also signal an eating disorder. Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.

Two psychiatric eating disorders, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia, are on the increase among teenage girls and young women and often run in families. These two eating disorders also occur in boys, but less often. Symptoms of anorexia nervosa and bulimia are characterized by a preoccupation with food and a distortion of body image. Many teenagers hide these serious and sometimes fatal disorders from their families and friends.

VIDEO: How does collaborative care work at SunCloud Health?

Binge Eating Disorders in Teens

The symptoms of binge-eating include:

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as a 2-hour period
  • Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
  • Eating fast during binge episodes
  • Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
  • Eating alone or in secret to avoid embarrassment
  • Feeling distressed, ashamed, or guilty about your eating
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss

Teen Bulimia Nervosa 

The symptoms of bulimia nervosa include the same symptoms as binge-eating, plus trying to get rid of the food or weight after binging by:

  • Purging, making yourself throw up or using laxatives or enemas to speed up the movement of food through your body
  • Doing intensive and excessive exercise
  • Fasting

Anorexia Nervosa in Teens

The symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:

  • Eating very little, to the point of starving yourself
  • Intensive and excessive exercise
  • Extreme thinness
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted body image – seeing yourself as overweight even when you are severely underweight

Teen Eating Disorder Treatment: What Are Your Options?

Early detection and treatment are important for a full recovery. A person’s family can play a crucial role in treatment. Family members can encourage the person with eating or body image issues to seek help. They also can provide support during treatment and can be a great ally to both the individual and the health care provider. Research suggests that incorporating the family into treatment for eating disorders can improve treatment outcomes, particularly for adolescents. Treatment plans for eating disorders include psychotherapy, medical care and monitoring, nutritional counseling, medications, or a combination of these approaches. Typical treatment goals include:

  • Restoring adequate nutrition
  • Bringing weight to a healthy level
  • Reducing excessive exercise
  • Stopping binge-purge and binge-eating behaviors

People with eating disorders also may have other mental disorders (such as depression or anxiety) or problems with substance use. It’s critical to treat any co-occurring conditions as part of the treatment plan. Research also suggests that medications may help treat some eating disorders and co-occurring anxiety or depression related to eating disorders. Specific forms of psychotherapy (“talk therapy”) and cognitive-behavioral approaches can treat certain eating disorders effectively. Information about medications changes frequently, so talk to your health care provider.

VIDEO: Our adolescent program summarized

Teenage Anorexia Treatment

Avenues of treatment of adolescent anorexia include:

  • Individually-based approaches are also commonly used for adolescent anorexia that are psychodynamically informed and developmentally tailored
  • Family-Based Treatment (FBT)
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Teenage Bulimia Treatment

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Treatment often involves a mix of the following:

  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Behavior changes
  • Nutritional rehabilitation
  • Medicine for depression or anxiety, if needed

Teenage Binge Eating Treatment

Although children and adolescents are less likely than adults to meet the criteria for BED, related behaviors such as loss of control eating (i.e., the experience of loss of control overeating regardless of the amount of food consumed) are prevalent.

Treatment involves the following:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)

Statistics about Teenage Eating Disorders

teen ed treatment suncloud health Northbrook IL

Based on diagnostic interview data from National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), the lifetime prevalence of eating disorders among U.S. adolescents aged 13 to 18 years include:

  • The lifetime prevalence of eating disorders was 2.7%.
  • Eating disorders were more than twice as prevalent among females (3.8%) than males (1.5%).
  • Prevalence increased modestly with age.
  • In the NCS-A, eating disorders included anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.

National Statistics for Children and Adolescents:

  • A 2011 nation-wide study approximated that half a million U.S. teens between 13-18 have some form of an eating disorder
    • Binge-eating disorder (BED) is the most common, affecting more than 1.5 percent of kids studied
    • BED often leads to obesity
  • 50% of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight
  • 80% of 13-year-olds have attempted to lose weight
  • 40% of newly identified cases of anorexia are in girls 15-19 years old
  • Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents
  • 95% of individuals with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25

Treatment Plans for Teen Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can be treated successfully. Early detection and treatment are important for a full recovery. People with eating disorders are at higher risk for suicide and medical complications.

A person’s family can play a crucial role in treatment. Family members can encourage the person with eating or body image issues to seek help. They also can provide support during treatment and can be a great ally to both the individual and the health care provider. Research suggests that incorporating the family into treatment for eating disorders can improve treatment outcomes, particularly for adolescents.

Treatment plans for eating disorders include psychotherapy, medical care and monitoring, nutritional counseling, medications, or a combination of these approaches. Typical treatment goals include:

  • Restoring adequate nutrition
  • Bringing weight to a healthy level
  • Reducing excessive exercise
  • Stopping binge-purge and binge-eating behaviors

People with eating disorders also may have other mental disorders (such as depression or anxiety) or problems with substance use. It’s critical to treat any co-occurring conditions as part of the treatment plan.

Specific forms of psychotherapy (“talk therapy”) and cognitive-behavioral approaches can treat certain eating disorders effectively.

VIDEO: What to expect when starting in our adolescent program

Underlying Causes of Teen Eating Disorders

There’s no single cause for eating disorders. Genes, environment, and stressful events all play a role. Some things can increase a person’s chance of having an eating disorder, such as:

  • poor body image
  • too much focus on weight or looks
  • dieting at a young age
  • playing sports that focus on weight (gymnastics, ballet, ice skating, and wrestling)
  • having a family member with an eating disorder
  • mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, or OCD

VIDEO: Why consider SunCloud Health for your child

Treatment of Eating Disorders in Teens at SunCloud Health

At SunCloud Health, we carefully consider individual needs and create specific accommodations for treating eating disorders in teens. SunCloud Health provides a range of personalized treatments and therapies available for teens with eating disorders, which includes the opportunity for families to be involved in the process.

VIDEO: What we do in Treatment at SunCloud Health

Meet our Adolescent Treatment Team

  • Kimberly Dennis, MD, CEDS
    Kimberly Dennis, MD, CEDS
    Chief Medical Officer, CEO and Co-founder
  • Mike Mehta, DO, MBA
    Mike Mehta, DO, MBA
    Psychiatrist
  • Alexander Chevalier, MD
    Alexander Chevalier, MD
    Medical Director, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Johnathan Coleman, MD
    Johnathan Coleman, MD
    Psychiatrist
  • Monica Roberts, Ed.D, LCPC
    Monica Roberts, Ed.D, LCPC
    Director of Family Therapy
  • Hope Kravetz, MA, LCPC
    Hope Kravetz, MA, LCPC
    Director of Clinical Liaison and Educational Services & Director of Adolescent Outreach
  • Stephanie Fleck
    Stephanie Fleck
    Education Coordinator
  • Dr. Nicole Bishop
    Dr. Nicole Bishop
    Psychologist, Clinical Director

VIDEO: MIKE MEHTA, DO, MBA, PSYCHIATRIST ON WHAT HE LIKES ABOUT CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRY.

Mike Mehta, DO, MBA, Psychiatrist at SunCloud Health, on what he likes about child and adolescent psychiatry.

Hear from one of our patients

A priceless definition of abstinence, by a former patient (shared with permission):

“Abstinence means waking up every day and dedicating myself to recovery. Taking care of my body, mind, and soul. For my body, abstinence is avoiding toxic substances and eating nutritious foods to feel my body in a healthy way. For my mind, abstinence means actively censoring my thoughts and effectively using my coping skills to manage stress and relieve anxiety. For my soul, abstinence means truly being happy means that I make decisions that are consistent with my morals and values and take full responsibility for my choices. That’s a very abundant definition of abstinence and not a definition I would in any way, shape or form associate with deprivation.”

SCH Teen Eating Disorders Treatment Accreditations and Professional Licenses and SunCloud’s Teen Eating Disorder Treatment Center Locations

Led by one of the nation’s most prominent clinicians in treating eating disorders, Kimberly Dennis, MD, SunCloud Health is a leader in eating disorder treatment for people with anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorders. Our services are available at all of our locations, including Northbrook, Chicago, and Naperville.

Dr. Kim and the team at SunCloud Health have treated thousands of people, including teens, with eating disorders. Our care team recognizes that no two people are alike and it is important to meet the person where they are at as we design a customized care plan designed to meet our patient’s needs. Our program is successful in treating eating disorders in teens because we understand that true long-lasting and sustainable recovery is about more than just restoring weight or helping someone stop purging. Our objective is to target the source of the pain with love and compassion, using the experience of our trained experts, many of whom are in recovery themselves. We believe the whole family system is a critical component of treatment. Our aim is to help our patients feel supported in all contexts of their lives and this starts with their familial relationships.

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Accreditations, Certifications & Licensing

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