If you are concerned that your child or teenager may be suffering from anorexia, or if they have been diagnosed with an eating disorder and you are looking for professional support, we can help.
Anorexia is a serious mental health condition characterised by an extreme preoccupation for pursuing as low a body weight as possible.
Children and adolescents with anorexia may:
The disorder is characterised by an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat and often sufferers perceive themselves to be fat even when dangerously thin.
For young people with anorexia, their weight and shape influences their identity and self-evaluation to a disproportionate degree, to the point where many sufferers can become completely lost in the disorder.
Eating disorders are complex conditions, with a combination of biological, psychological and social causes. Factors ranging from children’s genetic makeup to their life experiences create a unique set of vulnerabilities which may make them vulnerable to the development of anorexia.
As such, it is inaccurate and often very unhelpful to attribute the illness to a single cause. In particular, the common myth that families are responsible for their children developing eating disorders is not supported by research evidence and can be highly counterproductive for sufferers and carers alike.
Anorexia most commonly develops during adolescence.
Child and teenage brains are not fully developed until they are in their 20’s, and in the quest to develop their own sense of identity young people can be very susceptible to the opinions of others.
Thank you for helping our daughter find some hope again. Things are much calmer at home – Dr K was just wonderful at helping our daughter understand her feelings and we now have a way forward.
The following are some of the most common signs that an eating disorder, such as anorexia, may be developing or has developed. If you are concerned about your child or teen’s eating habits, weight loss, mood or behaviours we would also recommend seeking expert help as quickly as possible.
Not all children and teenagers with anorexia will show all of these signs, and as anorexia is notoriously a very secretive illness, it can be hard to really know what is going on for your child. However, if you suspect something is wrong, then it is always advisable to seek professional advice.
Identifying whether your child or teenager has an eating disorder and broaching the subject with them can be very challenging. Many teenagers, especially teenage girls, engage in dieting behaviours and express dissatisfaction with their weight even when they are slim. It’s hard for parents to know when their child’s eating behaviours become a significant issue but research shows that early intervention is the best way to determine a full recovery.
Helping your child to see that he or she may have a problem and to agree to an appointment for further professional evaluation is a difficult and important first step in eating disorder recovery. It is very common for young people to become hostile and defensive when loved ones raise concern about their eating, not least if problems really are developing.
Many young people with anorexia are simultaneously in denial about having eating difficulties and believe that the condition benefits them in some way (e.g., helps them focus, evidences self-control and determination). Be prepared for your loved one to state that they don’t have any difficulties or even to say that you are the one with a problem for suggesting as much!
Tips for discussing your child’s eating with them: