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The Difference Between Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders

The Difference Between Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders

Adolescence is a time of significant change and challenge, both physically and emotionally. As teens cope with the many physical, social, and intellectual changes occurring during this critical stage of development, they may struggle to find their place in the world. 

Hormonal chaos often puts them at increased risk for developing eating disorders or disordered eating habits. While they share commonalities, eating disorders and disordered eating are two different clinical presentations with varying implications for treatment.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are complex but treatable mental and physical illnesses that can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights. National surveys estimate that 20 million women and 10 million men in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

Adolescent eating disorder statistics show that less than three percent of teens in the U.S. between 13 and 18 years old have an eating disorder. In addition, the National Eating Disorders Association helpline has had a 40% jump in overall call volume since March 2020. Among callers who shared their age over the last year, 35% were 13 to 17 years old, up from 30% before the pandemic.

These numbers show that eating disorders are a serious problem among teens, with many teens struggling to cope with the stress, confusion, and emotions that accompany adolescence.

Eating Disorders Disrupt Life

An eating disorder is a severe condition that disrupts an individual’s life and affects their health, including kidney and heart issues, weakened bones, hair loss, organ failure, and even death. Eating disorders can involve a number of behaviors that occur on a continuum ranging from severe overeating to self-imposed starvation. The four primary eating disorder diagnoses are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), previously known as selective eating disorder.

Disordered Eating

Disordered eating is a complicated and often misunderstood topic. It’s important to understand that disordered eating differs from an eating disorder. 

The primary delineating factor between disordered eating and a diagnosable eating disorder is the frequency and severity of the abnormal eating pattern. Although both disordered eating and eating disorders are abnormal, eating disorders have very specific diagnostic criteria outlining frequent and severe behaviors.

On the other hand, disordered eating refers to unhealthy behaviors and attitudes around food that do not meet the clinical criteria for an eating disorder.

While disordered eating doesn’t always meet the criteria for an official diagnosis, it can still significantly impact your teen’s physical and emotional well-being.

Types of Disordered Eating

There are many different types of disordered eating, but some common signs include skipping meals, obsessing over calorie counts, and engaging in restrictive dieting behaviors. 

Disordered eaters often have a distorted body image and see food as either “good” or “bad.” They may also feel guilty or ashamed after eating, even if they’re not overeating. 

If disordered eating patterns are left unchecked, they can lead to serious health problems such as malnutrition, weight loss, and digestive issues. In severe cases, disordered eating can even lead to death.

When to Worry

While most teens go through some dietary change or experiment with their eating habits, a few behaviors could be cause for concern. These include suddenly missing family meals or refusing to eat food from entire categories, such as carbohydrates or processed foods. 

Worth concern, too, is the teenager who develops fixations such as carefully counting calories, exercising obsessively, or hoarding food, which may be a sign of a binge eating disorder. Parents should be on the lookout for these and other changes in their teens’ eating habits and talk to their teens about any concerns.

Eating disorders require specialized treatment, while disordered eating can often be treated on an outpatient mental health basis. If you suspect your teen may have an eating disorder, please seek professional help. Early intervention is key to helping teens overcome eating disorders and live healthy lives.

How to Help Your Teen

Teens and eating disorders have been increasingly recognized as a serious issue, and the rates of diagnosis among teens continue to grow. Teens today are exposed to many conflicting messages around body image and health, which can exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions like anxiety or low self-esteem.

Despite these risks, there are steps that parents and educators can take to support teens in this critical phase of life. By providing a supportive environment where teens feel free to be themselves and explore who they are without judgment or shame, parents can help them develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage daily life stressors.

While teens with eating disorders receive a lot of attention, it’s important to remember that teens with disordered eating habits are also at risk. It can manifest in a number of ways, including skipping meals, refusing to eat certain foods, fixations on calorie counting or exercise, and hoarding food. At Clearfork Academy, we understand how important it is to recognize the warning signs and take action as soon as possible. Early intervention can prevent disordered eating from progressing into a full-blown eating disorder requiring specialized treatment. It can also prevent other co-occurring disorders from developing, such as using substances to cope. If you are concerned about your teen’s relationship with food, it’s crucial to talk to them and seek professional help. With the right support, teens can learn to develop a healthy relationship with food. For treatment options and referrals, call us today at (888) 966-8604.

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Oppositional Defiant Disorder and SUD

Oppositional Defiant Disorder and SUD

It’s not uncommon for kids to go through a period where they exhibit moodiness or defiant behaviors. The term “terrible twos” or the early teen years are typically known as the most challenging years for parents and their child’s behaviors. However, these behaviors could be signs of an underlying behavioral disorder.

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) affects up to 16 percent of children and teens. If your child’s behaviors raise concern on whether there may be an underlying condition, understand that behavioral disorders are common in children. It is helpful to know the symptoms and how to seek treatment.

What Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a behavioral disorder often diagnosed during childhood. There is no known cause of what causes ODD, but there are theories about how it may develop. A child with ODD is defiant, uncooperative, and aggressive towards siblings, peers, authority figures, and parents.

ODD is more common in boys during their childhood years. Symptoms typically develop and become noticeable between the ages of 6 to 8.

Signs Your Teen May Have ODD

The symptoms of ODD can happen in children who do not have this disorder. The defining aspect of whether or not it is ODD is the frequency of how often the child displays these symptoms. It will also interfere with daily routine and activities. These behaviors will occur at home with parents or siblings and at school with teachers and other classmates.

Symptoms may include:

  • Blaming others for their own wrongdoings
  • Combative with adults and authority figures
  • Exhibiting a short temper
  • Disobeying rules, demands, and requests
  • Refusing to do what is asked of them
  • Throwing excessive temper tantrums 
  • Speaking harshly or aggressive to others
  • Seeking revenge, mocking, or being vindictive towards others

These symptoms can occur naturally or if a child is experiencing budding hormones. It is important to speak to your pediatrician or pediatric mental health professional for a proper diagnosis.

Risk Factors

While the causes of ODD are not entirely understood, there are risk factors. Risk factors include:

  • Mood Disorders: Improper functioning of neurotransmitters can influence ODD symptoms and lead to other disorders. ADHD, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders may influence ODD.
  • Family Challenges: The environment a child grows up in impacts their behavior. Common challenges include inconsistency in whether parents are present or not, emotional instability, and substance abuse.
  • Genetics: Adolescents can also have ODD if they have a family history of other mental health disorders. For example, if ADHD or mood disorders run in the family, chances are your child can develop ODD.
  • Emotional Regulation: Temperament also can affect whether a child develops this disorder. If a child struggles with emotional regulation and controlling their behaviors, it can manifest into ODD.

ODD rarely occurs as the only disorder in adolescents. Another co-disorder that is common in individuals with ODD is substance use disorder.

Co-occurring ODD and SUD

Alcohol and drug use are common among teens who have ODD. Drugs and alcohol are often a means to cope with underlying issues, and it can lead to substance abuse which can exacerbate the symptoms of ODD.

Teens may also use substances to defy parents or authority figures. If they know that the parents do not tolerate substance use, they may use substances to break the rules.

Treatment Options for ODD and SUD

It can be tricky to know how to approach treatment options for ODD or if the behaviors are the result of ODD. The key defining points are the frequency of the behaviors and whether they disrupt their daily living. When talking to your child, they won’t see their behaviors as an issue or their fault but instead blame others. It is why you must speak up and describe behaviors to their pediatrician or mental health professional. Seeking a qualified professional will help diagnose and find treatment for your child.

Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for getting this disorder under control. When looking for diagnosis and treatment, contact a psychologist or psychiatrist that specializes in behavioral disorders. They will also be able to assess and diagnose any other co-occurring disorders such as substance abuse. Treatment options for ODD and SUD include:

  • Individual and Family Therapy
  • Parent training and Parent-child Interaction Therapy
  • Social skills training
  • Medication
  • Lifestyle changes

If you are concerned that your child may have ODD or a substance use disorder, talk to their pediatrician or mental health professional right away. Seeking help today will provide your teen the best chances to manage their mental health and substance use disorders.

If you believe your teen may be struggling with ODD, substance use, or other co-occurring disorders, know that help is available. Clearfork Academy is a treatment facility dedicated to helping teenage boys overcome drug use and co-occurring disorders. Our facility resides on a charming ranch overlooking Eagle Mountain Lake in Fort Worth, Texas. We offer a variety of therapeutic programs that we specialize in to meet your child’s specific needs. The staff at Clearfork are highly trained and can offer the highest and dedicated quality of care. As a parent, being involved in your child’s recovery is essential to helping them maintain sobriety and let them know they have support from the ones they love. Know that you and your teen do not have to go it alone. If you are looking for a safe and caring treatment facility for your teen, Contact Clearfork Academy today by calling (888) 966-8604