Loss of appetite among teenagers occurs for various reasons. While the reasons for a decrease in appetite may simply be growing pains, other causes may be more serious. Underlying causes of loss in appetite may require medical attention, counseling or nutritional education. Your teenager's lack of appetite may lead to unhealthy weight loss, lack of essential nutrients, a weakened immune system and decreased energy levels. After talking with your teen, consult a physician for medical guidance.
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According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, or AAFP, teenagers or adolescents who are depressed may experience a loss in appetite. Other signs your teen may be experiencing depression include loss of interest in favorite activities, a change in sleep patterns and not wanting to attend school. Depression is often caused by traumatic events such as divorce or a death in the family. Depression causes an imbalance in certain chemicals in the brain such as serotonin, which affects both mood and appetite. If you think your teen is depressed, the AAFP recommends talking to your child about his thoughts and feelings. Consult your teen's doctor regarding his behavior to discuss a treatment plan or counseling.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, medications are psychostimulants, which may cause your teen to experience loss of appetite, according to the AAFP. ADHD is a common psychological disorder among teens and children, which generally causes hyperactivity, inattentiveness, disorganization, distraction and impulsive behavior. Teenagers with ADHD may experience academic and social difficulties. Avoid side effects such as loss of appetite by talking to your teen's doctor about a lower dose or offering healthy snacks to your teen.
Loss of appetite is often a symptom of mononucleosis, or mono. Mono is generally contracted through direct contact with an infected person's saliva, such as kissing or sharing a beverage, lip gloss or eating utensil, according to the Teens Health website. Other symptoms of mono include sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, weakness and abdominal pain. While there is no cure for mono, plenty of rest, ibuprofen, a well-balanced diet and plenty of fluids can help your teen feel better in a few weeks. Exercise caution to avoid spreading the disease to friends or family members.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, anorexia nervosa is a serious emotional disorder involving an irrational fear of gaining weight. Individuals suffering from anorexia will go to great lengths, including self-starvation and excessive exercise, to avoid weight gain. Loss of appetite, however, develops in late-stage anorexia after long periods of starvation. If you suspect your teenager may be suffering from anorexia or another eating disorder, seek medical attention immediately.
Similar to depression, stress can cause a variety of negative effects on the body, including decrease or loss of appetite. Teens who experience difficulty at school, such as bullying or a learning disability, may experience serious loss of appetite due to emotional and psychological stress. Coping with a tragedy or death of a loved one may also cause stress in a teenager's daily life. Since stress can lead to other psychological or emotional problems, pay attention to your teen's needs, ask questions, offer support and seek professional help if necessary. Encourage your teen to exercise or partake in other stress-reduction techniques to relieve stress and stimulate his appetite.