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Understanding Bulimia In Teens: 5 Ways Loved Ones Can Help

With teens having to respond to peer pressure and the stress of rapid change within themselves, they are more predisposed to developing a mental condition in an attempt to cope. Bulimia is one of the most common issues at this stage. While this can be mistakenly dismissed as harmless, its effects are more serious than what most think. Here are some things you should know about bulimia and how you can help.

Warning Signs of Bulimia


Many watch what they eat, what clothes they can fit in and how they look in general. This is more true for teenagers who might experience some degree of stress when they adapt to the rapid changes in their body. They also tend to face more pressure in trying to fit in and look attractive. This is also why it can be hard to tell between an eating disorder and self-consciousness. However, there are red flags that you should watch out for if you suspect you have a bulimic teen.

Bulimic teens are too preoccupied with their body shape and weight that they would go through extreme lengths to stay in their definition of “thin.” The core symptoms of this condition are shame and guilt. He or she is also in a strangely addictive relationship with food. Thus, people with bulimia tend to binge eat or overeat and then force themselves to throw up everything they consumed later. One moment they seem to be enjoying food, the next moment they will treat it like the plague. Unlike anorexics, who are palpably very thin, those who are bulimic are often of normal weight or even a bit overweight, so it’s tricky to spot just by looking.

How to Talk to Them

When talking to somebody with an eating disorder, always keep in mind that such disorder is a coping mechanism that could be a psychological defense mechanism. At the Counseling Center at Vilanova, you are advised that you continue friendship and show them support as it is important to make them feel that they are not alone through these tough times.

You should also choose a time where both of you can bare your thoughts with each other and be sincere and that your conversation will be free from interruption. It is very important never to criticize or judge your teen. Make him or her feel that you are sincerely sympathetic through all that he or she is going through. Never promise to keep his or her secret if it is a means of preventing you from getting help.

Learn About Their Situation


You might not be able to engage your loved one on a level headed basis if you do not have any idea what they are going through. First is, you should not dismiss their eating disorder as just another teenage drama issue and take them more seriously.

Parents and family members should educate themselves about anorexia and bulimia and be able to step in the shoes of those who have it. Sometimes, it is the unknown or the lack of knowledge that frightens us the most. Information is everywhere nowadays. For sure, your local hospital, library and some web searches can give you reliable information already.

Learn About Treatment

Having a teen with an eating disorder might be tough, but things can get worse if you do not consider treatment at all. Fortunately, cases of bulimia and anorexia have been addressed with success many times. For all you know, the best remedy might just be within arms’ reach.

Learn more about different approaches to treatment, therapy, and counselling. Be a smart consumer and identify those professionals who have prior experience working with eating disorders. Also, take a look at their facilities and programs. After all, it is you who must know which environment your teen should respond to.

Ask for Professional Help

While this problem is highly treatable, you should also consider that of all psychiatric disorders, anorexia and bulimia have considerably high mortality rates. However, early intervention can help improve the chances of recovery.

Your teen might get violent, so be prepared to assert your authority and responsibility. Their life could depend on whether or not they could get past this stage. It is also important that you find out what needs to be done and discuss options openly and regularly with family members. Keep in mind that the longer the illness runs, the more serious the permanent effects could be.

If you observe your teen going through any of these signs and symptoms, keep in mind how serious this condition can be permanently. Always remember that you, your bulimic teen and your family are not alone in this. With a lot of options, getting past through this challenge has already been made very feasible. Do you have a bulimic teen? How do you and your family cope? Share with us your thoughts and insights in the comments below.

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