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Adolescents and Eating Disorders

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Eating disorders can be caused by psychological and emotional health, such as someone having a low self-esteem or negative self-image, which can stem from society and media. The individual may be impulsive or a perfectionist, which would cause them to make sure that their body is considered to be perfect. Also, many adolescents with eating disorders feel that they have no control over other aspects in their lives, like relationships or conflicts with family members, so they resort to eating disorders to give themselves some level of control over (Teachman 82). Though research is still ongoing to determine the likelihood of biological factors increasing the risk of an adolescent developing an eating disorder, some researchers believe that there are genes that can make people more likely to develop an eating disorder.

If an adolescent has a parent or a sibling who has been diagnosed with an eating disorder, that adolescent is more likely to also develop an eating disorder. It is because of this that some scientists are convinced that there is a genetic link between people likely to an eating disorder.

Moreover, some evidence exists to suggest that serotonin, which is a normal brain chemical, has the ability to influence eating behaviors (Lask & Waugh 64), which can lead to the development of eating disorders. The symptoms of eating disorders vary between each disorder, though they do have some similar symptoms. The most common symptoms associated with eating disorders include the adolescent being obsessed with their weight, depression or other mood disorders, a preoccupation with food, and negative self-image. Symptoms associated with anorexia nervosa include denying hunger, excessive dizziness, abdominal pain, and menstrual irregularities or amenorrhea, which is a complete loss of menstruation.

Symptoms linked to bulimia nervosa are excessive exercising, self-induced vomiting, going to the bathroom after eating a snack or meal, damaged teeth, and sores in and around the mouth and throat.

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