Eating disorders are mental health conditions that are characterized by disordered eating behaviors. But, what causes eating disorders? Disordered eating behaviors are typically the result of experiencing emotional distress as these behaviors are utilized in an attempt to manage the symptoms of emotional distress. So, there are a number of reasons for the development of eating disorders. Often, recognizing the causes of eating disorders can help individuals displaying the behaviors of disordered eating recognize that they may be struggling with an eating disorder. Therefore, it’s important to identify and address the causes of eating disorders so that individuals who are dealing with these mental health issues can get the help they need to manage their disordered eating behaviors and the mental and emotional issues that contribute to them.
Anyone can develop an eating disorder. There is no discrimination when it comes to mental health issues. People of all genders, sexual orientations, religions, cultures, and ages can develop eating disorders at any time of their lives. But, there are certain things that can increase the risk of developing eating disorders. Exploring these specific risk factors can help people dealing with eating disorders better identify what may have led to the development of disordered eating behaviors in their own lives.
Genetics play a part in a person’s risk for developing mental health issues including eating disorders. So, if you have a family history of eating disorders, you may be at a higher risk for developing these types of mental health issues yourself. Greater genetic influence occurs in closer family members, which means there’s a higher risk of developing an eating disorder if someone in your immediate family has an eating disorder. This is because people are influenced by the people around them and we mirror our behaviors around our closest family members. Furthermore, it is also due to the genetic influence family has on our physical functioning including hormone production.
Personality types can influence the risk for a person developing mental health issues. Specifically, in the case of eating disorders, if a person has a personality that struggles with issues like self-esteem, self-confidence, narcissism, dependency, and perfectionism, they may be at a higher risk for developing eating disorders. Many of these personality characteristics are found in people living with personality disorders. People with personality disorders may find that they are more likely to develop unhealthy habits in order to manage the symptoms of their personality disorders, including disordered eating. These personality disorders include obsessive-compulsive disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder. So, if you have been diagnosed with one of these personality disorders and find that you struggle with disordered eating, your personality disorder diagnosis may have something to do with the development of an eating disorder.
Having life experiences, especially negative influences around eating or self-image, can influence a person’s eating habits. And, lead to the development of eating disorders. This can include traumatic experiences during childhood including peer pressure to be thin or look a certain way or bullying. Furthermore, it can include the way that a parent influences what a child wears or how they eat. So, certainly, external and environmental factors play a huge role in the development of eating disorders.
Every person’s experience with disordered eating is a personal journey. And, every person’s journey is different. Regardless of the causes of a developed eating disorder, individualized help is necessary to truly identify the impact that disordered eating has on a person’s life. This way, individuals living with eating disorders can find the individualized assistance they need that fits their own needs.
Yellowbrick is dedicated to providing compassionate and comprehensive care for individuals who are struggling with disordered eating behaviors on an outpatient basis. Our eating disorder program focuses on a person’s individual experience with eating disorders, structured care, nutrition, and much more. Find out what you can expect from our services from our website to get started on getting the help you need today.
Yellowbrick collaborates with adolescents and emerging adults, ages 16-30's, their families and participating professionals toward the development and implementation of a strategic “Life Plan.” An integrative, multi-specialty consultation clarifies strengths, limitations, and risks, and defines motivations, goals and choices.
A mental health condition that’s characterized by intense shifts in mood including both manic and depressive episodes.
People living with Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, experience episodes of depression and sadness that are debilitating to daily life.
Those living with anxiety disorders experience high levels of anxiety and stress that interfere negatively with daily life.
A mental health issue in which a person’s cognitive function is impaired, resulting in symptoms like experiencing challenges with conducting speech, reading and writing, and behavior.
Mental health disorders that negatively affect a person’s behaviors, thought patterns, and function. People diagnosed with these disorders experience challenges with managing relationships and understanding various situations.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that people can develop as a result of experiencing traumatic situations, characterized by symptoms including flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, and more.
A mental health condition that is characterized by specific symptoms of forgetfulness and lack of concentration, which makes it challenging to complete necessary tasks.
Mental health conditions that interfere with a person’s eating habits, thought patterns, and behaviors in negative ways.
A mental health disorder diagnosable with the DSM-5 that is characterized by both obsessions and compulsive behaviors.