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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Teen

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

I am an anorexic. I hate it, but I can't stop doing what I'm doing. How can I go about this? I am a 16 year old female.

Answer

Anorexia is a serious problem for may people, especially girls and young women. Because of the medical complications that can develop, it is potentially life threatening. My first suggestion is to get help from someone locally as soon as possible.

The causes of anorexia are pretty complex, but usually people who suffer from this disorder have underlying problems. These problems may be with feeling the need to be perfect (which is impossible, so you never measure up) or from having parents who place extremely high expectations on you, which can result in feelings of being controlled, as well as extreme stress and anxiety.

Others may also suffer from feelings that they are not good enough as a person, or that their body does not look good enough. Sometimes it has to do with an unconscious wish to not grow up, or struggling with the bodily changes that occur as girls become young women. Often girls who have been sexually abused or who are parented by someone who has been sexually abused have difficulty with her developing sexuality which results in eating disorders. And sometimes it is a medical problem. Have you seen the movie about Karen Carpenter's life story? If not, you may want to check it out.

Regardless of the cause, professional help is usually required to address the eating problems as well as the underlying cause. You may want to read my response to a similar question written by a 14 year old who needed professional help but did not want her parents to be involved. You can read that response by going here.

No matter what else you do, talk to your parents or a trusted adult about your problem and find a professional in your area who can help you.

Good luck!

3/12/98

LuAnn Pierce, MSW, CMSW
Author of Growing up Sane (in uncertain times)
Seminar Leader Growing Well Adjusted Kids
Editor-in-Cheif Person to Person: Strengthening Youth & Families
Telephone Counselor Affinity Counseling Center
Affinity Books & Resource Center: Your Source for Emotional Wellness

 

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