Causes of Bulimia

What Causes Bulimia?

There is no one cause of bulimia, however biological, psychological and sociocultural factors contribute to the development of this condition.

Family ties to causes of bulimia

More than 50 percent of the risk of developing an eating disorder is based on genetics, underscoring a strong familial component to these illnesses. In fact, a woman with a mother or sister who has bulimia is four times more likely to develop bulimia as well.1

Personality predispositions as causes of bulimia

Personality traits are believed to be inherited, and a distinct set of traits has been found to be common among those at highest risk for bulimia. Traits like the following tend to characterize those struggling with bulimia and other eating disorders:

  • Impulsivity
  • Low self-directedness
  • High harm avoidance
  • Difficulty seeing the “big picture”
  • Rigidity

Other causes of bulimia

While genetic risk plays an important role in the development of bulimia, not all individuals with a family history of this disorder will develop the illness. In fact, many individuals with no genetic link to eating disorders develop bulimia. There oftentimes are causes, other triggering events and circumstances that provoke bulimia symptoms, such as:

  • A traumatic experience
  • Difficulty with a life transition
  • A diet gone awry or pressure to lose weight
  • “Eat healthy” messages from parents, coaches and trainers are common eating disorder triggers

Our ERC expert explains additional causes of eating disorders in this video:

Seek help for binge/purge behavior

No matter what the cause is, if you are bingeing and purging, you are suffering from an illness and need professional help.

Our eating disorder treatment centers specialize in the treatment of bulimia. Please call us at 877-825-8584 so we can learn more about your struggles and help you along a path to healing and recovery.


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