Anorexia in teens is a serious problem that can turn into severe health issues, and potential death. It is not something that should be taken lightly, or ignored. Statistics show that many teens hide eating disorders for months or years before someone takes notice.
You need to understand the severe health and emotional problems that can come from anorexia, and be on the lookout for the warning signs so that you can get help and get treatment quickly and easily.
What are the warning signs?
There are certain signs that should put you on the watch for an eating disorder in teens. For example, an unnatural concern about body weight could be an indicator of a more serious problem.
This is especially the case if the person is not overweight at all, and not really in danger of being overweight. This is a warning sign that should tell you that they have a warped sense of what body image should be, and that if not corrected, it could lead to more serious problems.
The next warning sign to be on the lookout for is an obsession with calories, fat grams and food or calorie counting. A normal teen without risk of anorexia will learn this stuff, take an interest, and forget it.
If you find yourself or someone you know rejecting certain foods because of "calories" or "trans fats" or something similar, you may want to discuss their interest with them and evaluate if this is a sign of a problem with food, or a curiosity sparked by learning.
Obsession with counting calories, or limiting food intake because of a fear of weight gain is a sure sign of eating disorder, or impending eating disorder.
Next, a huge warning sign for anorexia is that of using any medicines to keep from gaining weight (diet pills, laxatives, water pills, etc.). Teenagers should not be interested in such methods, and if you or someone you know is using them, it should act as a big red flag that there is a problem.
Also, skipped meals, decreased appetite, etc should be looked out for. Most people with eating disorders will try and hide it if they are reducing their eating. They will have "legitimate" reasons for not being hungry, etc.
Of course, there are far more serious warning signs to watch for as well. Some indicate severity of an eating disorder, not a tendency toward potentially having one.
Again, most teens with eating disorders, particularly anorexia, try and hide it, so try to be perceptive. Watch for things like refusing to eat or lying about how much was eaten. If you have to, scoop up their plate yourself, and make sure they finish it.
Things like fainting can be a huge indicator of an eating disorder, specifically one that involves self starving.
Over-exercising or an obsession with exercise is another sign of an eating disorder, as the two often go hand in hand because of the obsession with being thin. In girls, not having periods is a warning sign that is easy to watch for.
If you notice it has been a while since you purchased feminine products, or emptied a trash can with them in it, it could be a sign of an eating disorder as it messes with the monthly cycle and can eliminate it for a time.
Lastly, watch for signs such as denial. Most teens who suffer from anorexia will swear there is nothing wrong, and make up excuses for their increased interest in their weight, their weight loss, or weight fluctuation.