Saturday, June 9, 2012
Teen-ager Can't Stop Dieting
I'm 16 years old, and have always been on the chubby side. The kids in school used to tease me about my weight so I decided to lose a few pounds. Now, a year later, I have lost 20 pounds. Everyone tells me I look too thin and my parents are always nagging me to eat. We fight all the time over this. I just can't stop dieting.
Do you think I should find help for this?
Your feeling of not being able to stop dieting may be a symptom of an eating disorder called anorexia nervosa. Anorexics have a fear of being fat and of not being able to control their eating. Some anorexics deny their hunger and refuse to eat while others binge and induce vomiting. Either behavior can cause abnormal weight loss and lead to many serious consequences such as absence of menstruation, weakness, fainting and malnutrition.
Very often, as in your case, the symptoms first appear after the individual decides to lose some excess weight. This, of course, does not happen to everyone. In fact, there is little agreement on why it happens. Most doctors do agree, however, that there is an emotional basis for the symptoms and that anorexia nervosa can become most disabling, contributing to problems in the family such as those you are experiencing with your parents. Yes, I think you should seek professional help either alone or if possible with your parents. You may want to show them this column and share your concerns with them. Fortunately, there is treatment available for anorexia nervosa. In recent years, perhaps because of the rise in the number of cases, professionals have become very attentive to the problems of the anorexic. There are many area therapists both in private practice and in outpatient facilities who specialize in the treatment of anorexia through the use of individual, family or group counseling.