Study Finds That Adolescents With Eating Disorders Have “Missed” Self-Harm Behaviors

The Profile Does Not Always Match the Patient

Most likely, the missed self-harm behavior in adolescents with eating disorders is because they do not fit the criteria of questions and guidelines used by physicians. Those with eating disorders and self-harm behavior are most commonly seen in young adult women.

Why Adolescents Participant in Self-Harm Behavior

To most people the answer they would come to conclude is that the suffer is trying to cause themselves to feel pain. When in fact just the opposite is true. “Patients describe a feeling of release that comes when they cut or burn themselves,” “They’ll cut with a razor or a scissor blade. Sometimes we’ve even had kids who will take the tip of a paper clip and gouge holes. To burn themselves, they’ll heat up a metal object and press it to their skin, or they’ll use cigarettes.” Said Rebecka Peebles, MD, an instructor in pediatrics at Stanford and a researcher.

The Study

1,432 patients, ages 10-21, who were admitted to the hospital’s eating disorders program. Just over 90 percent of all the patients were female, three-quarters of them white, with an average age of 15. Among the 40.8 percent identified to be physically harming themselves, the average age was 16. Many of these patients had a history of binging and purging, and 85.2 percent of the self-injurers were cutting themselves.


Before the treatment program began, the researchers believe that the adolescents while being screened for the study were not asked the right questions. Perhaps that is because the questions being asked by the adolescent’s physicians need to be updated. Researchers found that the participants were very honest during the study and did not hide anything about their self-harming behavior or eating disorders.


Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

Find a Treatment Facility Near You

Click on a state below to find eating disorder treatment options that could be right for you.

The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes and we encourage all visitors to see a licensed physician if they believe that they have an eating disorder. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

Copyright © 2008-2017
Company Information

© 2017 All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of's terms of service and privacy policy. The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.