“Mental Health Out Loud: Eating Disorders and Body Image Among Teens” [Video Replay & Podcast #428]

Access the video replay, listen to the podcast episode (#428), and access related resources for this Q&A session originally broadcast on October 27, 2022.

Episode Description

The pandemic has brought with it a troubling surge in eating disorders. The numbers are alarming: National eating disorder hotlines report a 70 percent spike in call volume, and hospitalizations for eating disorders have doubled in the last three years.

Eating disorders have among the highest mortality rate for any mental illness (and yes, they are considered a mental illness and not a behavioral issue), but stigma and shame often keep people from seeking help. Researchers have found that two types of eating disorders in particular, bulimia and binge eating, often co-occur with ADHD. A 2007 study conducted at Harvard Medical School found that girls with ADHD were almost four times more likely to have an eating disorder than were those without ADHD.

Critics blame social media for driving the increase in eating disorders. In fact, nearly a dozen lawsuits have been filed by families against the parent company of Instagram, saying that the platform has harmed the mental health of minors.

Meanwhile, teens and young adults are forming secret online communities to discuss eating disorders, crash diets, looking skinny, and ways to lose weight — and these chats have their own hashtags and phrases on YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, and Twitter to hide from parents and to evade these platforms’ policies.

In this special Mental Health Out Loud conversation, Dena Cabrera, Psy.D., will answer questions about eating disorders from the ADDitude community. Topics of discussion will include:

  • Different types of eating disorders, how these present differently in boys and girls, and how eating disorders differ from disordered eating
  • What makes young people with ADHD more prone to eating disorders and body image issues than their peers without ADHD
  • How social media’s influence on tweens and teens contributes to disordered eating
  • Signs to help parents and others identify an eating disorder in a person when it might not be apparent
  • How to identify and best address the underlying self-esteem issues that are common among adolescents with eating disorders. If taking away all social media is not possible, how can caregivers help build up a child who has low self-esteem?
  • How to start a conversation with adolescents and young adults about the dangers of eating disorders without judgment or blame
  • What are best practices for treating comorbid ADHD and eating disorders? For example, do practitioners hesitate to treat ADHD with stimulant medication, which can suppress appetite?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year information and referral service.  For anyone experiencing a crisis, immediate help is also available by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

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Resources and Organizations

More on Eating Disorders and Mental Health

Meet the Expert Speaker

Dena Cabrera, Psy.D., CEDS, is a Clinical Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist with over 24 years of experience treating psychological and psychiatric disorders. Before opening her own private practice in Anthem, Arizona, she served as the Vice President of Clinical Services for Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders. Dr. Cabrera is a nationally recognized expert in her field, having authored numerous articles and publications including co-author of the book Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy (#CommissionsEarned). She’s also a sought-after speaker and has been featured on numerous news outlets, talk shows, and prominent national and local publications. She previously served as president of the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (IAEDP). Learn more by visiting her online at denacabrera.com.

#CommissionsEarned As an Amazon Associate, ADDitude earns a commission from qualifying purchases made by ADDitude readers on the affiliate links we share. However, all products linked in the ADDitude Store have been independently selected by our editors and/or recommended by our readers. Prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

Listener Testimonials

“Huge thanks for focusing on this topic. As a high school psychologist, this is becoming a big concern in my school.”

“Excellent presentation and flow.”

“Thank you for your suggestions on comments to make regarding values and integrity versus weight and body shape.”

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