Parents frequently wonder how to identify symptoms of anorexia nervosa and bulimia. These disorders are characterized by a preoccupation with food and a distortion of body image. Unfortunately, many teenagers hide these serious and sometimes fatal disorders from their families and friends.

Symptoms and warning signs of anorexia nervosa and bulimia include the following:

A teenager with anorexia nervosa is typically a perfectionist and a high achiever in school. At the same time, she suffers from low self-esteem, irrationally believing she is fat regardless of how thin she becomes. Desperately needing a feeling of mastery over her life, the teenager with anorexia nervosa experiences a sense of control only when she says "no" to the normal food demands of her body. In a relentless pursuit to be thin, the girl starves herself. This often reaches the point of serious damage to the body, and in a small number of cases may lead to death.