Responses to Questions from our team of specialists:
Dear Virtual Doctor,
I have witnessed my 17 year old daughter lose weight for 6 months… she eats almost nothing and exercises for hours. Should I worry or not?
If you are worried that the weight loss is continuous and remain concerned about the low amount of food being consumed it is important that you speak with your daughter as she may be experiencing a serious illness called “anorexia nervosa”. From what you have written she is demonstrating many of the symptoms…. The weight loss, obsession with not eating, excessive exercise to look and feel good - something must be done before it is becomes a pattern of behaviour. There are teams of specialists in eating disorders who can support your daughter and you. This is usually a physician, a psychologist and a nutritionist. The treatment focuses on treating the anxiety and psychological issues relating to the illness, supporting the development of a proper diet and possible other medical interventions that may be required to tackle subsequent health issues caused by malnourishment. In many cases when things get worse, patients can be hospitalised until they reach a healthy weight, and their life is no longer endanger.
Dear Virtual Doctor,
At parties my 15 years attends they are serving alcohol. I am worried that she is drinking alcohol too… How do I stop this?
Talk to your child about your concerns and be explicit in their beliefs about alcohol and young people. If you believe that at this age drinking is wrong, you must express that to them. There are strong reasons not to drink at such a young age. We know the damage that alcohol does to the developing brains and how it puts you at risk to all sorts of dangers. Also talk with your husband and with other parents of your children’s friends. If your child comes home drunk, ensure it has clear consequences. …. Be firm and have a united front on this issue. Seek support from your child’s school and other parents. Peer pressure can be strong but we hope that you too can be strong. When she goes to and returns from parties wait for her to come home to see what state she is in when she arrives. Take her personally to parties, etc.. However, you can also help to teach her how to socialise around alcohol.
Supervision in adolescence is very necessary because at this age this is when you are more impulsive and may make decisions you will later regret.