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Eating Disorders, Addictions Tough to Treat in Teens
Date:7/1/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to treating eating disorders and addictions, the path to recovery may be even harder -- and less straightforward -- for children and teens than it is for adults, experts say.

"Disorders that start when you're young, in adolescence, no matter what the disorder, are always harder to treat and harder to recover from," said Dr. David Schlager, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.

This applies both to a wide range of problems, he said, from eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia, to addictions and mental illness.

No one knows exactly why this is so, in terms of brain chemistry, but adolescence can be hard enough even without these complications.

"There are so many crucial things going on, so much pressure to establish yourself in various ways," explained Schlager, who's also a psychiatrist with Lone Star Circle of Care. Mental health can be easier for adults, he reasoned, because "if you've made it to 30 you've carved out a little groove for yourself, most people will give you a little latitude."

Also, the bodies and minds of people suffering from any of these disorders work differently than those of healthy individuals, making the challenge even tougher.

"In anorexia, [which typically sets in between the ages of 14 and 17], when someone is severely underweight, their brain and their body tend to react differently," said Andrea Vazzana, a clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at New York University Child Study Center. "Someone who is severely underweight is likely to have difficulty concentrating, making good judgments. Reasoning becomes more difficult and their mood is affected. They're more irritable and depressed and anxious."

People with bulimia suffer from a similar problem. "Th
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