Anorexia on the Rise: Is Your Teen at Risk?

Jacqueline Burt Cote

anorexic girlReady for your jaw-droppingly scary statistic of the day? Girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 are 12 times more likely to die from anorexia than any other cause, and cases are actually on the rise. Of course, most teens (not to mention grown-ups) are bikini season-obsessing about their bodies right now. How can you tell if your dieting daughter is experiencing "normal" body insecurities or if she's on the road to anorexia?

It's a complicated issue, but the answer is relatively simple: If your daughter is on a diet, she'll still seem like your daughter, just on a diet. If your daughter is anorexic, she'll slowly become a stranger -- a shadow of her former self.

Anorexia diminishes so much more than the physical body -- it will steal your teen's spirit, spunk, heart, and hope. Many of the signs to watch out for overlap with symptoms of substance abuse: She will lose interest in everything she was once passionate about, she will withdraw from family and friends. She will be moody and tired.

If you look into your daughter's eyes and they are suddenly as empty as her stomach, trust your gut: She is sick. She is more than sick, she is suffering from the disease with the highest mortality rate for her age group. She needs help, and you can't help her alone.

Anorexia's reputation as a media-driven disorder leads some to assume or believe that it's not a deadly illness capable of stealing their daughter away, forever. It is. If you suspect your daughter might be anorexic, respond in the same way that you would if you thought she might have a heart problem or a malignant tumor. Her life is at risk.

Do you suspect your teen might have anorexia?


Image via Haleyface/Flickr

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