Futures Recovery Healthcare

4 Factors That Contribute to the Development of Eating Disorders


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How do eating disorders start? There is usually no one single cause, but rather a number of different issues that culminate in an eating disorder. These factors could be:

  • Biological
  • Emotional
  • Interpersonal
  • Social
  • Psychological

What do all these terms mean? How do you know if you may be dealing with something that could be a contributing cause when it comes to your issues with food?

Biological Causes

The subject of biological causes for eating disorders is continually being researched. Some propose that chemicals in the brain that control appetite and hunger may be a part of the story and that, when unbalanced due to genetics, accident or disease, can cause people to develop disordered eating habits. How to identify these issues and remedy them are still under investigation. What we do know for sure is that eating disorders – like other mental wellness issues – often run in families. But is it biologically passed from one member to another or an environmental issue that occurs when family members develop similar habits? Again, that is a question that is currently up for debate.

Interpersonal Causes

Many use food to medicate emotional issues and there are few things more emotionally disturbing than interpersonal relationships. Problems that can trigger eating disorder issues range from moderate to severe, including:

Breakups, divorce and on-again/ off-again romantic relationships
Difficulty expressing emotions or emotional attachments to others
Past issues with being victimized by bullies or teased, especially about appearance
Past or current issues of physical abuse, sexual abuse and/or domestic violence

Social Causes

The importance that the media places on a particular beauty ideal varies from culture to culture, and in our country, tall and skinny is the media’s version of perfection. Actresses are airbrushed in magazines to look as close to the ideal as possible, models for almost every line of clothing are thin, and the cultural norm is to judge people based on their appearance. It can make it difficult for those who are also dealing with other emotional or interpersonal issues to handle the pressure without developing disordered habits with eating.

Psychological and Emotional Causes

Psychological issues like low self-esteem, feeling a lack of control over stressful issues in your life, feeling inadequate, or struggling with mental health symptoms like depression or anxiety can all trigger you to attempt to regain control through food or find comfort in eating. If you are using food to self-medicate feelings associated with the above problems, eating disorder treatment can help.

At Futures of Palm Beach we understand that the causes of an eating disorder are unique to each person’s situation. Our customized treatment programs are tailored to address the needs of each individual. If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, contact us today to learn how we can help you conquer it.


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