NRS 434 Adolescence: Contemporary Issues and Resources

NRS 434 Adolescence: Contemporary Issues and Resources

NRS 434 Adolescence: Contemporary Issues and Resources

Teenagers encounter numerous real challenges in their daily lives during a time when they experience the most complex growth in their lives. Adolescence is a period where persons face overwhelming internal and external struggles. Teenagers go through hormonal changes, school pressures, parental and social forces, and encounter numerous unfavorable conditions that they are expected to cope with. This results in feeling overwhelmed when a teenager faces unprecedented stresses in school, family, and social life. Some of the contemporary issues that teenagers face today include self-esteem and body image, bullying, depression, substance abuse, cyber addiction, teen pregnancy, underage sex, peer-pressure, and eating disorders. This paper will discuss eating disorders among teenagers, including assessment strategies for this issue and support for adolescents encountering eating disorders.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders refer to psychological disorders that entail extreme disturbances in eating behavior. The common eating disorders in teens include anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa (Harrington et al., 2015). Although approximately 90% of eating disorders are found in female teenagers, the disorders have been on the rise in the past years. An adolescent with anorexia refuses to maintain minimally normal body weight by restricting food intake (Harrington et al., 2015). Individuals exhibit profound psychological disturbances with overwhelming concerns about their size, shape, and weight. Teenagers often feel fat even when emaciated and are terrified of any weight gain (Lindstedt, Kjellin & Gustafsson, 2017). Besides, they are preoccupied with elaborate plans to promote further weight loss.

Teenagers with Bulimia nervosa demonstrate recurrent episodes of binge eating, which are followed by abnormal compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting and the use of laxatives to get rid of the food. Besides, teenagers with bulimia have an over concern about their body shape and weight. They also have episodes of fasting and purging.

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External stressors associated with eating disorders include low self-esteem, depression, substance abuse, and peer pressure.  Peer pressure often dictates to teens how they should look, which results in abnormal eating patterns to have a specific body size and shape (Harrington et al., 2015). Besides, parental style and discord, as well as household stress, are associated with anxiety and personality traits that are risk factors for eating disorders (Gander, Sevecke & Buchheim, 2015). Pressure on academic performance, success, and external rewards often lead to overly high expectations in teenagers (Gander, Sevecke & Buchheim, 2015). Consequently, they try to achieve success with something they can control by regulating what they eat and their appearance.

Assessment Strategies to Screen for Eating Disorders in Teenagers

Eating disorders in teenagers can be assessed by obtaining subjective and objective data. Subjective assessment cues include the teen reporting skipping most meals and experiencing insomnia as well as having a high interest in exercises (Harrington et al., 2015). However, teens with eating disorders often deny having any problems. Objective findings that may suggest an eating disorder include muscle wasting, extreme weight change, dental cavities, erosion of tooth enamel, poor hair or nail quality, and skin rash or dry skin (Lindstedt, Kjellin & Gustafsson, 2017). Malnutrition may manifest with arrhythmia, bradycardia, hypotension, hypothermia, and edema (Harrington et al., 2015). Furthermore, on general examination, the adolescent may appear moody, anxious, or depressed. Screening tools that can be used to assess for eating disorders include the SCOFF questionnaire. The SCOFF questionnaire facilitates the assessment of Anorexia and Bulimia nervosa.

The examiner can ask additional questions to the teenager, such as: “How do you feel about your body?” or “What

NRS 434 Adolescence Contemporary Issues and Resources
NRS 434 Adolescence Contemporary Issues and Resources

would you like to change about your body?” This can help to assess if the teen has a distorted body image. “How many meals do you have in a day?” To identify if there are unusual eating habits (Harrington et al., 2015). “Which are your preferred meals?” To assess for caloric restrictions. “What is your exercise plan?” To evaluate for over-engagement in exercises (Harrington et al., 2015). The examiner should also assess for depressive symptoms, including the presence of suicidal symptoms because more than 50% of patients with eating disorders have a past or current episode of major depression.

The examiner should uphold ethical principles of confidentiality when dealing with a teenager having an eating disorder. This dictates that information about the teen should be kept confidential and should only be communicated after the teen provides written consent (Lindstedt, Kjellin & Gustafsson, 2017). Besides, the teen should decide how often the examiner can share the health information with the parents. However, the examiner is allowed to discuss the health information with the teen’s parents if there is an adverse health condition that warrants emergency medical interventions (Lindstedt, Kjellin & Gustafsson, 2017).  Besides, the health provider can discuss with the parents f there is suspected abuse or assault.

Support Options for Adolescents with Eating Disorders

Support options for adolescents having eating disorders include psychotherapy programs. Psychotherapy has been established as the basis for the successful management of an eating disorder (Herpertz-Dahlmann, 2017). Psychotherapy aims to reduce distorted body image and dysfunctional eating habits, helping the teen return to social engagement and resumption of full physical activities. The programs include Family-based therapy whereby family members learn how to support, interact, and care for the teen. Cognitive behavior therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy are used to help teens with Bulimia nervosa to change their dysfunctional eating behavior (Harrington et al., 2015). Furthermore, teens are linked to social support groups for group therapy (Herpertz-Dahlmann, 2017). Other support options include linking teens to mindfulness practices programs such as meditation and yoga, which help relieve anxiety and provide low-energy physical activity.


Contemporary issues faced by teens today are associated with pubertal development, unfavorable conditions, and societal pressures that cause psychological stress and eventually lead to dysfunctional behavior. Common eating disorders include anorexia and bulimia nervosa, which are more prevalent in girls than boys. External stressors associated with eating disorders include peer pressure, parental discord, substance abuse, depression, and pressures for success. Assessment strategies to screen for eating disorders entail taking a subjective and objective data and using the SCOFF questionnaire. Support options for teens having eating disorders include psychotherapy interventions such as family, group, and individual therapies and mindfulness practices.




Gander, M., Sevecke, K., & Buchheim, A. (2015). Eating disorders in adolescence: attachment issues from a developmental perspective. Frontiers in psychology6, 1136.

Harrington, B. C., Jimerson, M., Haxton, C., & Jimerson, D. C. (2015). Initial evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. American Family Physician91(1), 46-52.

Herpertz-Dahlmann, B. (2017). Treatment of eating disorders in child and adolescent psychiatry. Current opinion in psychiatry30(6), 438-445. https://doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000357

Lindstedt, K., Kjellin, L., & Gustafsson, S. A. (2017). Adolescents with full or subthreshold anorexia nervosa in a naturalistic sample–characteristics and treatment outcome. Journal of eating disorders5(1), 4.