ADHD Threatens Female Adolescents with Eating Disorders
By Yorkelis, age 18, Dominican Republic
A recent scientific study from the University of Virginia led by psychologist Amori Yee Mikami has proven that teen girls diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are also threatened by the possibility of suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa. "Adolescent girls with ADHD frequently develop body image dissatisfaction and may go through repeating cycles of binge eating and purging behaviors that are common in bulimia nervosa." (Science Daily).
An issue like this requires special attention. ADHD is a disorder which may cause problems in any aspect of a person's life, work, school, or in personal relationships. The attention span of a person with ADHD is that of a three year old, making the person less focused in any area that requires undivided attention. According to the Department of Health and Human Services symptoms of ADHD include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
Being diagnosed with ADHD can be a crucial impediment in a girl's lifestyle, and having to deal with even more pressure of an eating disorder can be unbearable. "Our finding suggests that girls may develop a broader range of problems in adolescence than their male counterparts," Mikami said. "They may be at risk for eating problems, which are a female-relevant domain of impairment. We know that eating disorders occur 10 times more often in girls than boys." Just by being an adolescent female, a person is scientifically proven to have more worries and stress than the average male adolescent.
ADHD is a disorder that has gradually increased in teens over the years. ADHDCentral.com states that in a classroom with at least 30 students one out of three children will be diagnosed with ADHD. I am related to a 13 year old boy diagnosed with ADHD, and through the years he has been taking very strong medications. His behavior at times has gone beyond what his parents could handle.
The percentage of girls who suffer from ADHD is lower than that of boys. Only 60% of girls who are diagnosed with ADHD suffer symptoms of hyperactivity, while the percentage for boys is 75%. (ADHDCentral.com) According to this new scientific study, girls with ADHD are more susceptible to a life threatening disorder like bulimia nervosa or anorexia. "Long-term mortality from anorexia nervosa is estimated at 5-10%, with most deaths resulting from starvation, cardiac events, or suicide." (Answers.com)
Having ADHD is a factor in the process of an eating disorder. Since one of the symptoms of ADHD is impulsiveness, it is harder for girls with both ADHD and an eating disorder to control themselves. The study was done using an ethnically diverse group of girls, some of them having a background of childhood abuse.
The amount of medicine that needs to be taken in order to maintain and control ADHD can also be a factor according to this new study. "An additional concern is that stimulant medications used to treat ADHD have a side effect of appetite suppression, creating a risk that overweight girls could abuse these medicines to encourage weight loss, though we have not yet investigated that possibility," Mikami said. "This is an important statistic since we know that over 60% of children in the U.S. are medicated at some point for their ADHD." (ADD Health & Wellness Center)