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Link to suicidal thoughts is even more reason to identify eating disorders

March 08, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
(The Hartford Courant )

Eating disorders among teens is dangerous enough. Now researchers say these teens face a higher likelihood of having more psychological problems, including suicidal thoughts. There’s no sure-fire cure for any of these self-destructive and potentially fatal behaviors, but learning how to identify them is the first step.

Friends may be the first to be aware that something's wrong. People with anorexia nervosa, for example, don't eat enough because they think they're too fat -- even though they may be very thin. Those with bulimia nervosa purge after overeating, and binge-eaters can't control the amount of food they eat.

RELATED: Teens with eating disorders more likely to harbor thoughts of suicide, study finds

And among the three disorders, bulimia was found to be the most common in the recent study. Here's an overview from Helpguide.org about symptoms and treatment for bulimia. Note that it says this:

"If your loved one has bulimia:

--Offer compassion and support. Keep in mind that the person may get defensive or angry. But if he or she does open up, listen without judgment and make sure the person knows you care.

--Avoid insults, scare tactics, guilt trips, and patronizing comments. Since bulimia is often caused and exacerbated by stress, low self-esteem, and shame, negativity will only make it worse.

--Set a good example for healthy eating, exercising, and body image. Don't make negative comments about your own body or anyone else's.

--Accept your limits. As a parent or friend, there isn¿t a lot you can do to “fix” your loved one's bulimia. The person with bulimia must make the decision to move forward.

--Take care of yourself. Know when to seek advice for yourself from a counselor or health professional. Dealing with an eating disorder is stressful, and it will help if you have your own support system in place."

And here's more information on how to help a friend who might have an eating disorder -- from Bucknell and Brown universities.

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