Wellness & Education

Could my teen have anorexia?

Are you worried that your teen may have anorexia? If so, have a healthcare professional examine your child’s body weight or body mass index.  If it is more than 15% below normal, anorexia might be a possibility. Don’t assume that a son cannot develop anorexia. While it is much more common in women than in men, it is a condition that afflicts both sexes. Here are some signs that may indicate your teen is suffering from anorexia:

  • Teens with anorexia have a distorted body image, which causes them to believe that they are overweight even when they are very thin. They try to “fix” their perceived weight problem with extreme dieting, sometimes even to the point of self-starvation. They may also exercise compulsively.
  • Teens with anorexia may or may not engage in binge eating, or stuffing themselves with food, before purging, or making themselves vomit.
  • Anorexia can cause amenorrhea, which is missing more than 3 periods in a row.
  • Frequently, teens with anorexia are high achievers who are very self-critical. They usually start to exhibit anorexic behavior between the ages of 13-14 or 17-18.
  • Over time, anorexia can cause hair loss, lose teeth and dry, cracking or scaling skin.
  • Anxiety, depression and self-isolation are all possible signs of anorexia.

If you think your teen may have anorexia, seek medical attention. Teens are still growing and developing, which means that their bodies are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition. Anorexia can lead to extreme health problems and, in some cases, even death.

While anorexia is usually found in girls ages 12-25, boys and people of all ages can also develop anorexia. Fortunately, the condition is treatable. If you think anorexia is a possibility, take your teen to see his or her healthcare provider. Early diagnosis and treatment are important.