Why do eating disorders occur?
An atypical attitude toward food that may lead a person to change their eating patterns and routines is a hallmark of eating disorders such anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating.
There is no known primary cause of eating disorders. Despite the fact that all eating disorders seem to have a common obsession with body size and shape, research has so far demonstrated that eating disorders can be influenced by a wide range of genetic, cultural, social, behavioral, psychological, or biological factors.
As a result, the “cause” of an eating disorder could be complex and multiple.
Any race, age, or socioeconomic class can be impacted by eating disorders. Genetic factors, influences at home or at school, the person’s personality, the existence of specific psychological problems, cultural pressures, or a number of biological characteristics are risk factors that raise the possibility of having an eating disorder.
According to research, genetic variables may make it more likely for someone to develop an eating issue. People who have a first-degree relative with an eating disorder history are more likely to acquire an eating disorder than people who don’t have such a relative.
Additionally, particular genes that affect hormones like leptin and ghrelin have been found by researchers. According to experts, in addition to controlling appetite, these hormones may also have an impact on the personality traits and behaviors linked to anorexia and bulimia.
The majority of the existing research on the influence of the family in initiating an eating disorder is cross-sectional, retrospective, and unproven. However, it has been hypothesized that parents’ actions might affect their kids’ eating patterns. For instance, mothers who diet or obsessively fret about their weight, as well as fathers or siblings who make fun of someone’s weight or appearance, may cause their child to acquire an aberrant attitude toward eating.
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Similar remarks made by peers in a classroom setting can affect a child’s attitude toward eating. High expectations for a child’s achievement in school from a parent or teacher can also contribute to the development of an eating issue.
Low self-esteem, perfectionism, approval seeking, dependency, and issues with self-direction are just a few of the personality and behavioral features that are frequently found in people with eating disorders.
Additionally, certain personality disorders, such as avoidant personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder, can raise the chance of developing eating disorders.
People with avoidant personality disorder tend to be perfectionists, emotionally and sexually reserved, non-rebellious, and fearful of ridicule or criticism.
People who suffer from obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may be perfectionists, ethically strict, or excessively preoccupied with rules and order.
Self-destructive and impulsive actions are linked to borderline personality disorder.
An inability to soothe oneself or empathize with others, as well as a desire for praise and an excessive sensitivity to criticism or failure, are all characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder.
Atypical eating behaviors have been linked to psychological disorders such post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, phobias, and melancholy, as well as life stressors like job loss, divorce, dealing with bullying, and learning disabilities like dyslexia.
An eating problem may develop as a result of stressful or traumatic circumstances, such as meeting deadlines at work, school, or university, losing a loved one, and suffering tight deadlines.
problems of body image
Anorexia and bulimia are frequently linked to body image disorders such body dysmorphic disorder, where a person has a skewed perception of their body, or muscular dysmorphia, which defines an obsession with muscle mass.
pressures from culture
The influence of the media on Western culture might foster an obsession or desire for thinness. The idea of being thin, particularly among young girls, may be fostered and encouraged by the media because thinness or slimness is frequently associated with success and attractiveness.
But the media also aggressively promotes cheap, calorie-dense foods, which can be confusing and stressful. People who participate in competitive or athletic activities like modeling, ballet, or running may also feel pressure to lose weight. Because of this, some people may have irrational expectations about their physical appearance and overemphasize the value of being skinny.
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA), a physiological system, may be crucial in eating disorders. Serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are among the mood, stress, and stress-related hormones that are released by the HPA. These chemical messenger abnormalities are thought to be a major factor in eating disorders.
Serotonin is crucial for controlling appetite and anxiety, whereas norepinephrine manages stress and dopamine is involved in behavior that seeks rewards. People with anorexia may not feel pleasure from food or other everyday comforts because of a serotonin and dopamine imbalance.