n Mental Health Matters - The challenge of eating disorders in adolescence

Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN :


Eating disorders in adolescents remain some of the most challenging and severe conditions to treat. Associated psychopathology includes high levels of anxiety and depression, low self esteem, maladaptive personality traits, distorted perceptions of body weight and shape as well as interpersonal and familial difficulties. The eating disordered behaviour can also be reinforcing in that it serves as a coping mechanism for developmental transitions such as fear of maturity or distressing life events. The patient may also use the eating behaviours to maintain control. In Anorexia Nervosa physical health is also compromised due to malnutrition. The physical complications of Bulimia Nervosa include hypokalimia, esophageal tears, gastric disturbances, dehydration, cardiac arrhythmias and (like Anorexia Nervosa) death. However such patients are not easily frightened by potential medical complications, which can lead to a number of treatment sabotaging behaviours. Hence the importance of working within a multidisciplinary team (psychiatrist, GP, psychologist, dietician) from the outset of treatment cannot be stressed enough.

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