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Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses.

They are characterized by abnormal, irregular eating habits, and an extreme concern with one’s body weight or shape. There are several different manifestations of eating disorders. The various types are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under the Disorder Class: Feeding and Eating Disorders. The three most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Eating disorders can be debilitating and can adversely affect a young person’s emotions, health, and interfere with one’s ability to adequately function in his or her daily life. Young people that suffer from eating disorders often struggle with malnutrition such as a lack of essential minerals and nutrients. If left untreated, eating disorders can result in severe short and long-term consequences. 

Treatment

There are many treatment options for a teen struggling with an eating disorder. A respectable eating disorder treatment program will include expert psychiatric, individual, group, and family therapy, and treatment providers who are nimble and use multiple frameworks to connect and support their patients. Each person will require a tailored treatment plan to ensure all nuanced needs are met. The treatment plan for a teen diagnosed with an eating disorder will be directly informed by several contributing factors, such as one’s exact diagnosis, how long he or she has been actively engaging in unhealthy eating habits, his or her personal health history, and the presence of any co-morbid disorders. Depending on the needs of the adolescent, an eating disorder treatment plan could include but are not limited to any combination of the following:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): can be used to help an individual break unhealthy behavioral patterns associated with his or her eating disorder by identifying and replacing dysfunctional patterns.
  • Medications:
  • Anorexia nervosa: the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) has yet to approve any medication specifically for the treatment of anorexia nervosa. 
      • Bulimia nervosa: the only medication that is approved by the FDA for the treatment of bulimia nervosa is the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) known as Prozac (generically: fluoxetine). 
      • Binge-eating disorder: The first medication the FDA approved as a treatment for binge eating disorder is called Vyvanse (generically: lisdexamfetamine). Antidepressants such as SSRIs (e.g., Prozac) could be prescribed to reduce the frequency of binge eating episodes. Anticonvulsant medications, such as Topiramate, could be prescribed to reduce the frequency of binge episodes. 
  • Nutritional counseling: to facilitate weight restoration and body-weight management.
  • Medical care and/ or medical monitoring: to minimize and mitigate possible medical complications that can arise from eating disorders
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT can benefit a young person diagnosed with an eating disorder by helping to foster self-management skills, lower stress, reduce anxiety, and learn to control destructive eating behaviors.

The goal of treatment for teens with an eating disorder is to help them find a healthy and sustainable relationship with food. While eating disorders are life-long conditions, with proper treatment, a teenager can learn how to effectively manage its symptoms. 

Further Information and Support

Navigating the challenges that arise from living with mental illness, struggling with substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all-consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding mental illness, substance abuse, and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. At {Upwell Advisors}, we offer unique, customized concierge therapeutic services to provide our clients with unparalleled support throughout every step of the recovery process. 

Feel free to reach to contact us anytime via email at sean@upwelladvisors.com. We look forward to supporting you on your journey.

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