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Where can you find help if your teen has an eating disorder?

If you suspect your teen has an eating disorder, you must find outside help to both diagnose the extent of his/her eating disorder and to help find solutions. Eating disorders often reflect a combination of emotional and perhaps psychological problems, and they usually lead to a range of physical problems as well -- especially if left untreated. So you'll likely need to turn to a variety of resources to get your teen all the assistance he/she will need.

Your teen's regular doctor can be a first good stop, particularly to get a preliminary diagnosis as to whether an eating disorder exists and to determine if any other related physical health issues are already present. If your teen is hesitant to see the doctor, you might need to first gain the assistance of another advisor your teen trusts. Perhaps a favorite teacher, counselor, coach, clergy member, family member, or friend can help get your teen to see the doctor.

Since eating disorders do reflect a combination of health challenges -- physical, emotional and psychological -- your teen will probably need to work with a number of professionals to address all his/her needs. Psychologists or therapists who specialize in eating disorders can offer one-on-one or group counseling. If your teen's eating disorder is sufficiently severe, there are residential rehabilitation programs designed specifically for teens with eating disorders. Your doctor and your teen's school should have names of specific eating disorder professionals and help programs in your area. You can also visit some Web sites, such as the Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center, or call the National Eating Disorders Association's 24-hour information and referral to get names of people near you who can help your teen.

Acknowledging that your teen needs professional help can be difficult for you; however it's even more difficult for your teen to find help on his own. Since eating disorders only get worse as they continue, your teen is relying on you to reach out and find help.