Eating disorders - What causes eating disorders?
What causes eating disorders?
We do not know exactly why someone develops an eating disorder. Some people believe that the media and fashion industry put pressure on people to aim for low body weights. Other theories say that is a way to feel in control of themselves. There seems to be a combination of factors involved, which we explore below.
Causes of anorexia
There is no single cause of anorexia. Different factors can lead to someone developing the condition. There are psychological factors which include:
- being vulnerable to developing depression and anxiety,
- finding it hard to handle stress,
- worrying a lot about the future,
- wanting to be perfect,
- being very controlled with your emotions,
- having obsessive or compulsive feelings, and
- a fear of being fat.
There are also factors that relate to your environment. This can be things like pressures at school, bullying, abuse, or having difficult family relationships. It can be linked to having a job or hobby where being thin is seen as ideal, like dancing or athletics. Changes in the brain or hormone levels could play a part. You may be more at risk of developing anorexia if there is a family history of eating disorders, depression or substance misuse.
Causes of bulimia
As with anorexia, there is not just one cause of bulimia. It can be linked to emotional causes such as low self-esteem, depression and stress. Some people with bulimia have had a physical illness, a difficult childhood or been sexually abused. It is common for someone with bulimia to have other mental health issues. These can be conditions such as anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and personality disorders. Changes in your hormones around puberty could also be a factor.
Causes of binge eating disorder (BED)
It is not clear what causes binge eating but it may be a way of coping with low self-esteem and unhappiness. It can be linked to depression, anxiety, stress, anger or loneliness. Someone with BED may have experienced stressful or traumatic events in the past. There may also be a family history of eating disorders. There could be differences in your brain or hormone levels.
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