Bulimia and ADHD: Is Your Daughter At Risk for an Eating Disorder?

Impulsive adolescent girls, particularly ones with ADHD, are especially prone to eating disorders like bulimia. Here’s what parents should know — and do.


Filed Under: Comorbid Conditions with ADD, Teens and Tweens with ADHD
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Ease Up

Parents who are overly critical or controlling are more likely to have a daughter with an eating disorder, says Stephen Hinshaw, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Find ways to boost your daughter’s self-esteem.

Encourage her to do things she is good at — art, sports, dog-walking — and praise her for her accomplishments. If she struggles in school, hire a tutor. If she has trouble making friends, enroll her in a social-skills course.

Stay vigilant.
Be sure your daughter’s ADHD is properly treated. Finding the right medication to control impulsivity involves trial and error, but stick with it. Hinshaw’s research suggests that girls who are successfully medicated are at lower risk for bulimia.

Consider behavioral therapy.
Studies show that a combination of medication and behavioral therapy work better than either strategy alone for helping girls with ADHD.

Next: Keep Healthy Foods Around

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