Eating disorders in teens

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Teenage years, a stage marked by intense changes, brings with it a great deal of anxiety, stress and confusion. In addition to hormonal changes, a teen undergoes various physical transformations, often accompanied by feelings of low self-esteem, self-consciousness, and comparison with peers. During this period, often eating disorders become a coping mechanism for them to gain control of helpless situations. However, instead of realizing the seriousness of the disorder, teens often become experts in concealing their behavior.

Over time, feelings of shame and guilt only worsen the symptoms. The longer the disorder continues, the more reinforced are the unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior. When left untreated, young people with eating disorders are at a risk of sudden death due to following reasons:

  • Stomach rupture
  • Vital organ failure
  • Depression and suicide
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Accidental drug overdose
  • Seizure, coma and brain death
  • Substance use-related injuries

Though a complex illness, eating disorders in teens are treatable. A recommended treatment of eating disorders involves a multidisciplinary approach consisting of nutrition education, life skills training, counseling sessions and experiential therapies.

Eating Disorders: Symptoms

Symptoms of eating disorders depend on the type, severity, frequency and duration of the disorder. Patients may appear underweight, normal weight or overweight, or weight may fluctuate quite a bit. Patients also frequently have food- and meal-related ritualistic behaviors and do not like eating in front of others. The most common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, all of which include type-specific symptoms.

Many teens with eating disorders also have co-occurring mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), self-harm behavior, drug or alcohol use disorders, or other behavioral conditions. Excessive exercise is common with all types of eating disorders.

Eating Disorder Programs at Sovereign Health

As per the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), eating disorders are not lifestyle diseases, but are serious and often fatal illnesses that tend to disturb a person’s eating behaviors. Sovereign Health’s adolescent Eating Disorder Program in Rancho San Diego, California, fosters the development of a healthy body image and lifestyle routine and offers a comprehensive and holistic treatment for girls ages 12 to 17 with anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder. Sovereign’s teen eating disorder programs address the underlying and co-occurring conditions necessary to break the cycle of the problem and to restore physical and mental health among all our patients.

Our multidisciplinary treatment teams of physicians, therapists, dietitians and other professionals work together to provide the most effective treatment experience to each patient. Our teen eating disorder treatment program also provides plenty of support for parents and families. Individual, group and family therapies provide a cornerstone for treatment. Other modalities include nutrition and exercise programs, experiential therapy and cognitive remediation. At Sovereign Health eating disorder treatment centers, we provide ample opportunities for family and friends to show their love and support as they are an important part of treatment at our eating disorder recovery center.

As an adjunct therapy, we also offer neurofeedback that measures brain waves in response to different sounds and images through software interface. This noninvasive form of “brain training” helps patients learn self-regulation and develop new neuronal connections. These new connections can override old thought patterns and reinforce healthy habit formation.

The Sovereign Health Eating Disorder Program also fosters important life skills, which include interpersonal communication, healthy relationships, positive coping behaviors, nutrition and meal preparation, relapse prevention and much more. This program not only focuses on the treatment for eating disorders but also teaches important life skills for a successful recovery.

Residential Treatment Programs at Sovereign Health

At Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego, we provide age-appropriate, developmentally sensitive behavioral health treatment for adolescents and teens with eating disorders, mental disorders, substance abuse and dual diagnosis. Our residential treatment program takes place at our treatment facility and patients reside in our 14-bed home-like residence. The residence is located at our beautiful Rancho San Diego campus where everything is geared toward teens and adolescents. Patients enjoy plenty of outdoor recreation, including equine therapy and sports, as well as off-campus outings. Indoor activities are age-appropriate and designed to provide relaxation and self-expression.

Our specialized professional staff members work together to meet the goals and needs of our young patients and their families. To learn more about our eating disorder programs or any of our specialized services, call our 24/7 helpline and speak to our admission specialist. With the sole aim of treating eating disorders in adolescents, we provide our patients with individualized treatment plans designed according to specific needs and goals of each patient and his or her family.

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Sovereign Health offers comprehensive and high-quality treatment programming for substance abuse and mental health. Call our 24/7 helpline at any time to reach our admissions team.

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