A new study has concluded that teenagers who suffer from eating disorders are more likely to have suicidal tendencies.
According to research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, teenagers with eating disorders are more likely to experience substance abuse and anxiety disorders. Teen-eating-disorders are primarily associated with substance abuse culminating in suicide
Furthermore, the research surprised even experts in the related field when it observed that more than half a million teens in the U.S. alone confessed of experiencing symptoms of eating disorders.
These findings were a result of survey of more than 10,000 teenagers, the most widespread survey of its kind ever completed in the U.S.A Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health analyzed the surveyed data and reported the following findings:
- 1.6% of teens surveyed suffer from binge-eating. A Binge eating refers to the practice of compulsively eating large amounts of food even without the feeling of hunger, then experiencing depression and guilt afterwards.
- 0.9% suffer from bulimia nervosa, which also involves binge eating along with purging through self-induced vomiting, consumption of laxatives and over-exercising.
- 0.3% suffer from anorexia nervosa, which is primarily self starvation and excessive weight loss.
All these eating disorders revolve around an obsession with body image and weight. Depression is often a common trigger related to binge eating disorders. Wherein, anorexia and bulimia may begin with a fear of being made fun of for being overweight. Both males and females are affected by these disorders. While girls were found significantly more susceptible than boys for suffering with bulimia and binge-eating, An equal number of males and females suffering from anorexia.
One of the rather shocking findings of the research is that one third of the teens with bulimia reported having attempted suicide. The research also revealed the link between eating disorders and substance abuse, a topic which has been studied by other researchers. According to research; as many as 50% of people suffering from anorexia and bulimia have been found to have substance abuse problems. Alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines and tobacco are the most commonly abused substances among people with eating disorders.
Risk Factors for Eating Disorders
The Eating Disorders Coalition has reported that eating disorders have a higher mortality rate than any other mental illness, with about 20% of people with eating disorders eventually dying from their condition.
Parents of teenagers should look for the following risk factors for eating disorders:
- Low self esteem
- Anxiety, inability to manage stress
- Negative peer pressure or bullying
- Obsessive compulsive tendencies
- Family history of eating disorders
- History of abuse or trauma
Find Help for Teens with Eating Disorders
There is a stigma associated with eating disorders especially around teenagers. Regardless of the support of friends and family, they may hide the symptoms of their condition for several years. Parents should seek professional help immediately if they suspect their teenager is suffering from an eating disorder. The odds of recovering from an eating disorder and any associated substance abuse disorders are greatly increased with professional rehabilitation.