Does My Daughter Have an Eating Disorder?
There are many myths and misconceptions about eating disorders. The diseases of anorexia and bulimia affect mostly young women across socio-economic lines and race. However, with the desire for ripped mid-sections and toned arms, eating disorders has been on the rise among teenage boys for the past several years.
Before the myths about eating disorders (ED) can be deconstructed, one needs to know exactly what they are.
In fact, and anorexia nervosa is a very serious illness, with the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disease.  Studies have shown that those who have the disease for 20 years , 1/5 of those who have never fully recovered, die from it. 
Bulimia nervosa is the cycle of binging on food and then self-inducing purging, whether it be by vomiting or the use of laxatives and diuretics. They cannot control the urge to get rid of their food and often feel depressed after having done it. 
Binge Eating Disorder is the compulsion to overeat huge quantities of food, and then feel guilty about it. You cannot stop yourself from eating and repeat the behavior over and over again. 
Another kind of eating disorder is known as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). Those diagnosed with this do not meet the full range of issues that anorexics and bulimics have, but nonetheless do have an eating disorder and face the same medical complications that those exhibiting the full range of issues. 
What Are the Common Misconceptions About Eating Disorders?
They Are Caused by Parents
There is a lot of debate on this issue. There are eating disorder treatment centers that do place blame on the parents-whether intentional (telling their child to lose weight) or unintentional (making comments about others who are overweight or dividing foods into good and bad).
Others, like those who practice the Maudelsy Method of treating eating disorders, do not think that at all. They believe family is central to the recovery of a child with an eating disorder. Placing blame does not solve the problem, parental involvement does.
The bottom line is that there is no single reason why a person develops an eating disorder. It is a combination of internal and external factors that create the perfect storm.
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Eating Disorders Are Not a Mental Illness, Just a Diet Gone Bad
An eating disorder is a mental illness. Those who suffer with an ED have issues with anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Medication can help alleviate these symptoms and get the person back onto the road to recovery.
Dr. David S. Rosen, along with other scientists, believe that heredity and genetics play a role in whether or not your child develops an ED . A family history of depression, schizophrenia, and other psychological disorders come into play. People who are rigid or are anxious are more likely to develop this illness. 
If an Anorexic Would Eat, Then She Would Be Cured
While nutrition is certainly something an anorexic's body is craving because the brain cannot function properly without food, just eating will not solve the problem. She has a need to control something in her life, and how much food she ingests is something she can manage and conquer.
Those suffering with this mental illness have such a distorted body image that psychological medical treatment is necessary, in combination with proper nutrition, to recover.
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All Anorexics and Bulimics Are Super Skinny
Long before a person with anorexia achieves the look of extreme thinness that is associated with the disease, there are many months of red flags waving in the air. This illness does not happen overnight....there are signs and symptoms. Unless you are aware of what they are, you can easily miss them.
For example, teenage girls, by definition, are moody creatures. Parents blame hormones running wild, but it can also be that your daughter is starving and that makes her even moodier. Another sign that your child may have an ED is that suddenly, she wants to be a vegetarian or asks if foods are "good" or "bad".
A person with anorexia may have "food rituals", like not permitting foods to touch, combining foods that don't normally go together, or moving food around the plate but not really eating anything. You may see an increase in the amount of time devoted to exercise. There is weight loss, but it does not stop.
Anorexia IS NOT about losing weight...it is about a distorted body image. 
A bulimic may start to make trips to the bathroom right after eating. You may hear noises coming from the bathroom, and the child who is vomiting may not clean up all signs of their purge. You may find boxes of laxatives hidden in the garbage. Bulimics are purging their feelings...it is about self-esteem.
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Once Intensive Residential or Outpatient Treatment is Over, the Person With An Eating Disorder is Cured
While those with an ED cannot be dismissed from their facility without another support team ready to pick up where the treatment center left off, in some ways it is like starting all over again, as new relationships with professionals must be established.
Recovery from an Eating Disorder
Recovery from any kind of disorder is a long process. For every step forward, there will be two or three backwards. It can take years to be fully recovered, not months like the insurance company claims.
These common myths and misconceptions leave many parents alone in the dark, unable to share with family and friends. Their child and they are viewed in a harsh light, as if they have some kind of control over the situation...they do not.
Only when others stop judging, learn the facts about this mental illness, and give those a shoulder to lean on, can these myths be dispelled.
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