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How Atypical Anorexia Nervosa Can Go Underdiagnosed

When you think of Anorexia Nervosa, you may automatically think super skinny and emaciated as a telltale sign. The truth is that there are teens who are anorexic that do not show the outside physical characteristics and clues towards the manifestation of an eating disorder. A report that has come out of Melbourne from the Royal Children's Hospital has broken the stigma that only those who are underweight are anorexic. The research followed 171 adolescents from the ages of 12 to 19 who were hospitalized with symptoms of low pulse rates, low blood pressure, and low phosphate levels. These symptoms are also common with teens who suffer from an eating disorder, specifically anorexia, which can become life threatening. A big difference with the patients in the research is that they sustained a fairly normal healthy weight for their age. One third of the patients suffered from a condition which was coined as atypical anorexia nervosa. What the research pointed out was that eating disorders can occur at weight which is why atypical was attached to the condition. A teen who begins to lose large amounts of weight without medical supervision is evidence that something is wrong. Usually this sudden weight loss can be directly related to negative body image and negative self-esteem. Whether the influence on social media or the hurtful words of peers is to blame, the bottom line is that teens are looking for instant gratification with a dangerous means. Eating disorders among teens are the third most common chronic illness after obesity and asthma. The problem with atypical anorexia nervosa is that is can go undetected with parents because checking a teen's vitals of blood pressure, phosphate levels, or pulse are not necessarily the thing parents would think to check with a seemingly healthy teen. Parents should use some guidelines to check and see if their teens are exhibiting any signs of anorexia.  
  • Muscle mass loss
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
    • Amenorrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle nails
  • Dry skin
  • Increased facial hair
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Tooth decay
  • Bad breath
  • Insomnia
  • Compulsive exercise
  • Constipation
  • Memory Loss
  • Dizziness Obsessive Compulsive behavior
  Anorexic weight loss can become a never-ending cycle of constantly trying to lose weight, start receiving compliments from loved ones, and then strive to lose more weight to gain more compliments. This process can trigger the obsession of an eating disorder which ultimately can continue to lead to more restrictive diets. Atypical anorexia nervosa is a sneaky condition that can ultimately lead to some tragic consequences. Monitoring appropriate weight loss, dietary intake, and having a better understanding of their relationship with food, can help to decrease the symptoms of anorexia in teens overall.

Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center leads the way with progressive, evidence-based programming to most effectively treat each individual adolescent while focusing on the uniqueness of each client. Healing the mind, the body, and the spirit as one in the same can make the biggest difference in staying sober.

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