Eating disorders, like other mental conditions, are often stigmatized, which can make it more difficult for someone to reach out for help. When it comes to teenagers, it can be especially painful to confront an eating disorder, for both the individual and their loved ones. Many teens who experience an eating disorder may not understand what they are struggling with, and parents can feel helpless when it comes to knowing how to best support their child.

The Nature of Eating Disorders

If your teenager is suffering from an eating disorder, you may likely feel overwhelmed about how to help them through these struggles. In order to know how to best help your teenager overcome and heal from an eating disorder, it is first important to understand the nature of these conditions. In doing so, you can feel better equipped in knowing how to support their eating disorder recovery.

To begin, it is crucial to understand that the eating disorder was not your causing and that parents are not to blame. Research has identified that eating disorders develop as a result of many complex factors, including biological components, environmental conditions, and psychological influences. There is no single thing, person, or factor that can be said to have caused an eating disorder, as these diseases develop from the cumulation of many different components. As a parent, you may feel a degree of responsibility when it comes to your teenager having an eating disorder, but removing blame from your mind can better empower you to support their recovery.

It is also important to understand that eating disorders are severe and chronic illnesses with biological underpinnings. This means that an eating disorder is not simply a fad or tactic to change one’s body size or a rebellious phase that will pass over time. If left untreated, eating disorders can cause damaging consequences and become potentially fatal. While it is difficult to confront the reality of an eating disorder, ignoring these serious conditions can be harmful. If you are aware that your teenager is struggling with an eating disorder or feel like something may not be right, it is crucial to seek out professional help and intervention as quickly as possible.

Why Comprehensive Treatment is Necessary

Because of the nature of eating disorders in teenagers, comprehensive and professional treatment is absolutely imperative for healing and recovery. Researchers have also found that eating disorders in teenagers are associated with other complex conditions, including mood disorders, role impairment, and substance abuse addiction [1]. In one survey of teenagers with eating disorders, researchers found that the majority also met criteria for at least one other psychiatric disorder, such as depression. In addition, eating disorders were associated with higher levels of suicidal thinking compared to those without an eating disorder [2].

Conditions that co-occur with eating disorders can and should be addressed simultaneously within the context of professional treatment to help a teenager find complete healing and recovery. Comprehensive treatment for eating disorders effectively treats all aspects of the disease with an evidence-based approach toward healing. This means encompassing medical, nutritional, and psychological care in a manner that promotes recovery on a holistic level.

In many cases, eating disorders may also be influenced by underlying trauma, which can also add to the complexity of these mental illnesses. If unresolved trauma has contributed to the development of an eating disorder in a teenager, it is necessary to address this accordingly within comprehensive eating disorder treatment.

How The Meadows Ranch Can Help

At The Meadows Ranch, we believe that lasting recovery from an eating disorder is possible with the right treatment and professional intervention. Seeing someone you love struggle with an eating disorder is overwhelming. By offering evidenced-based medical and psychiatric care, nutritional rehabilitation, experiential therapy, culinary arts and more, The Meadows Ranch provides the safe, healing, compassionate and nurturing environment for eating disorder recovery to occur.

The Meadows Ranch also believes that families are an essential part of the healing journey. We embrace the whole family from the beginning of treatment and provide a five-day family week devoted to building healthy family relationships. We teach patients and their families to understand one another through effective communication and assist family members in practicing validating healthy behavior. This approach helps nurture their relationships in an effort to build interpersonal trust and confidence.

If you or a loved one is struggling with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, please feel free to give us a call at 866-239-7381 or send us a message online. Our intake specialists talk to people every day who are in various stages of eating disorders and are happy to answer any questions you may have.

References:

[1]: National Institute of Mental Health, “Most Teens With Eating Disorders Go Without Treatment”, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2011/most-teens-with-eating-disorders-go-without-treatment.shtml Accessed 29 December 2017.

[2]: Swanson SA, Crow SJ, LeGrange D, Swendsen J, Merikangas KR. Prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in adolescents: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement. Archives of General Psychiatry. Accessed 29 December 2017.