If you have a daughter with symptoms of anorexia, you are not alone; anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
Anorexia nervosa is a fear of gaining weight that mostly effects teenage girls and young women. It is marked by a distorted body image, which causes suffers to literally view themselves as overweight, when in fact they are often severely underweight.
Sufferers of anorexia nervosa get feelings of euphoria from starving themselves, not unlike the high drug users get. It’s important to try to stop this pattern early, before it becomes ingrained. The longer it takes to get under control, the more difficult it is to achieve, and the more the patient’s health suffers. There is no real cure for anorexia, and many of its sufferers battle this disease for a lifetime.
Various conditions can put some girls at a higher risk than others. It has not been definitively proven, but it is believed genetic makeup, hormones and brain chemicals may play a part in bringing on the condition. Also, having a family member who has or has had anorexia increases the odds. This familial link might be linked to genetic factors, but the habits can also be behavioral — witnessing relatives suffering from the condition can help bring it on in others.
Culture of Thinness
It is believed that western culture is influential as well, with its media barrage of thin and beautiful people. People with low self-esteem or who have parents who comment on their bodies and encourage them to be thin are all targets too. Traumatic life events such as a death, divorce or breakup with a boyfriend or group of friends can also bring on anorexia.
Anorexia can often go hand-in-hand with other debilitating conditions as well, such as depression, anxiety, OCD and substance abuse. These added underlying conditions need to be addressed as well in order for the sufferer to be successful in her fight.
Here at Havenwood, an important part of our treatment program is to remove the patient from her regular surroundings, immersing her in a new environment where she can be more receptive to treatment. Getting your child away from the hustle and bustle of your city or town, away from her school and away from the constant barrage of media is critical to making an inroad into her skewed perceptions. Eventually she will have to return to her old surroundings, but then she will be armed with tools to battle the pressures of the teenager’s world. She will still need your support, but this time, you’ll be working together. Call us for more information about our program and find out what we can do to help your daughter with anorexia.