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Without a way to mitigate its impacts, stress can have a profoundly negative impact on teens as they work on becoming and remaining recovered at residential treatment programs. Unfortunately, as they navigate the demands of daily life, teens face a wide range of stressors each and every day. Each day, these stressors range from mild to severe, and they can all add up to cause serious mental and physical health effects to occur.

Teens with eating disorders need help addressing and managing their daily stressors to work toward becoming recovered with confidence. They often need help even identifying the stressful areas that are causing them the most trouble. With so many different types of stress affecting teens, it can be difficult for them to understand how each situation impacts their thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Teens can receive the help they need in managing stress while at residential treatment centers. The therapists will help each teen identify their main stressors and find the best healthy coping skills to use in each situation.

Stressors Common in the Teenage Years

The stressors in the teen years are numerous and difficult to avoid. Almost all teens face some sort of stress each day as they head out to school and work, socialize with friends and attend to their other daily activities. Identifying the main stressors affecting teens helps eating disorder therapists provide the right level of support to promote recovery. Here are many of the stressors that affect teens, though there are far more to consider across all regions and cultures.

Peer Pressure

Teens face a ton of pressure from their peers to think, act and look a certain way at all times. Whether teens conform to these ideals or not, they are always having to deal with pressure from their peers. They may even indirectly influence each other to think or behave a certain way by unknowingly responding to society’s pressures.

Without mitigating peer pressure, and the stress it causes, teens with eating disorders may have a hard time avoiding disordered thoughts and behaviors while working toward becoming and remaining recovered. Pressure from peers can even make disordered thoughts and behaviors feel normative, making them particularly difficult to resolve without help at a residential treatment center.

Fear of Missing Out

As the world turns at such a fast pace, teens have to handle the stress that comes with the fear of missing out pretty much on a daily basis. This fear comes from the wide variety of activity options available each day and the need to pick and choose between them. Teens almost never have enough time in the day to fit in all their activities, making them feel like they are missing out.

If triggering situations make teens miss out on hanging out with friends or completing other activities, this stressor could feel particularly problematic. Teens with eating disorders may avoid dining in public or even going to places that serve food, for example. When their friends head to those places without them, they may have to handle the fear of missing out along with the stresses that arise when faced with those particular triggers.

Societal Influences

Societal influences also play a major role in the stress teens face every day. Society tends to dictate how teens need to present themselves and puts the pressure on them to conform. Societal influences go hand in hand with peer pressure, as peers tend to reinforce those influences on each other.

Particularly problematic for teens with eating disorders, society tends to assign a higher value to those who are objectively beautiful and thin. From images on TV to mannequins at clothing stores, teens constantly receive the message that they are not up to par when it comes to society’s standards. As these stresses mount, teens may try to cope by trying to conform to these unrealistic expectations even at the detriment to their health.

Parental Expectations

As teens try to live up to their parents’ expectations, they may start to feel more stressed than normal, especially if they cannot hit the mark. These expectations do not even need to be voiced, as teens tend to pick up what is left unsaid quite well. Whether actual or perceived, these expectations can put too much pressure on teens, making it difficult for them to achieve their own personal goals.

Parents may need to dial back the pressure or reiterate their chill stance to help their teens feel less stressed. Continuing to put too much pressure on teens, or allowing them to perceive it that way, can complicate the process of becoming recovery from eating disorders. Teens need to know that they have their parents’ support no matter what to confidently enter a residential treatment facility for care.

Family Dynamics

The family dynamics of a household can greatly impact how teens think and feel – and cause stress along the way. If they do not receive the right level of support from their parents, for example, teens could struggle to properly gauge their own value. Even simply giving teens too much freedom and not offering enough guidance is enough to cause problems down the road.

The need for stable and beneficial family dynamics is even more important to teens with eating disorders. They need to trust that their family will be there for them and remain intact while they are away at a residential treatment facility. When they can relax about their family life, teens can better focus on becoming recovered from eating disorders and remaining recovered after leaving the treatment centers.

Household Finances

Teens also notice household finances a lot more than they are given credit for and feel stressed when things do not look so great. They do not usually have access to the bigger picture either. As a result, their parents’ stress-fueled discussions about finances can trigger feelings of fear and doubt that teens are unable to resolve on their own.

When teens stress about the finances of their household, the constantly fluctuating stress levels may leave them looking for ways to cope. Teens with eating disorders tend to rely on disordered behaviors that promise to help control stress in the moment but tend to cause more difficulties later instead.

School and Activities

With so much competition at the college and career levels, teens are more booked than ever, trying to stay competitive every step of the way. They face enormous pressure to get good grades and participate in the full range of extra-curricular activities to even remain in the game. If they want to get ahead, however, they will have to perform extraordinarily well at every level, not just skirt by.

All this pressure causes teens to feel exceptionally stressed and even close to a mental breakdown. Whether teens struggle to keep up or hit the mark every step of the way, they often feel far too stressed to cope. When dealing with eating disorders at the same time, their symptoms may flare up, causing disordered thoughts and behaviors to take over.

Career and Future

Before they can actually work toward their goals, teens have to handle their worries about what they want to do with their lives after school ends. They have to decide if they want to go to college, get a job or take another track to their professional lives. Their worries about their career and future can cause stressful feelings to arise, even when talking about it casually.

Teens often need additional help with exploring their career options and talking about their future. If they do not receive the support they need, they may feel so much stress that they nearly shut down when faced with making decisions about their future. Disordered behaviors may promise to provide comfort at this time, only to result in more stress as teens cope with the need to enter residential treatment centers for teens.

Grief and Loss

When teens lose someone important to them, they can have a lot of trouble coping with grief and loss on their own. As the resulting emotions and difficult thoughts come pouring in, the stress may overwhelm them, even potentially leaving them feeling physically ill. Teens must receive help processing their grief and learning which coping tools can help them withstand the feelings that arise.

Teens do not even need to lose a family member to feel stressed from the grief. The loss of an influential celebrity or another individual who has made an impact on the teen can cause similar emotions to arise. When feelings of grief come from the loss of someone the teen did not directly know, it may be even more difficult to cope and deal with the stress as it comes.

Impact of Stressors on Eating Disorder Recovery for Teens

When teens with eating disorders face stressors every day but do not have the tool to cope with them, they could start to develop serious physical and mental health problems as a result. They may rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms that often turn into habits that could last through their adult years.

These coping mechanisms can actually cause eating disorder symptoms to worsen as well. This can make physical and mental health complications arise more often, resulting in a marked decline of the affected teen’s overall state of wellbeing.

As teens work on becoming recovered, controlling stress becomes even more important. Teens need to keep stress at bay to remain focused on learning everything the residential treatment centers for teens have to offer. When teens can control stress and cope with their daily challenges, they are better able to move through the levels of care and graduate from residential treatment programs.

How Residential Treatment Centers for Teens Can Help

While working on becoming recovered and graduating from residential treatment programs, teens will receive all the help they need in controlling stress from the fully-recovered staff. The staff at each residential treatment facility focuses on introducing healthy coping mechanisms that help teens better handle stress. Teens learn about a wide range of coping techniques to ensure they can find the ones that help them most.

While at residential treatment centers, teens can start to apply their healthy coping techniques when they feel stress in real-life situations. Therapists will even encourage teens to seek out stressful situations and apply their skills to cope in phenomenal ways. By practicing managing stress in this manner, teens learn how to keep this daily issue from derailing their progress in eating disorder recovery.

To get started, these individuals only need to reach out to residential treatment centers for teens and ask for help. The highly trained admissions specialists will offer teens the assistance they need to acquire care. They will ask a series of questions that help narrow down the ideal types of care and prepares the patient for the next steps.

Teens can also ask their parents to make the call and help them get started in acquiring eating disorder treatment. Parents can walk their teens through their call, accompany them to their intake appointment and remain a vital part of the care process from beginning to end. Residential treatment programs offer extensive programming that encourages family members to get and stay involved in helping their teens become and remain recovered.







Melissa Spann, PhD, LMHC, CEDS-S

Melissa Orshan Spann, PhD, LMHC, RTY 200, is Chief Clinical Officer at Monte Nido & Affiliates, overseeing the clinical operations and programming for over 50 programs across the U.S. Dr. Spann is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and clinical supervisor as well as an accomplished presenter and passionate clinician who has spent her career working in the eating disorder field in higher levels of care. She is a member of the Academy for Eating Disorders and the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals where she serves on the national certification committee, supervision faculty, and is on the board of her local chapter. She received her doctoral degree from Drexel University, master’s degree from the University of Miami, and bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.