Causes of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious but treatable mental illnesses that can affect people of every age, sex, gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic group. No one knows exactly what causes eating disorders, but it is generally believed they are the result of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.


Biological causes

Studies have shown a genetic link amongst family members with eating disorders. It’s not uncommon to see eating disorders span generations. It’s important to note is that eating disorders are often accompanied with other mental health co-morbidities, such as depression, anxiety and other mood disorders as well as drug or alcohol abuse.

Environmental causes

The environment can certainly play a role and help cause eating disorders, too. Trauma, pressure to look a certain way, sports performance requirements, expectations about grades in school and family dynamics are examples of how a sufferer’s environment can fuel eating disorder symptoms. However, many times a patient’s drive for perfectionism to achieve his or her own personal standard of excellence contributes to the eating disorder.

Cultural causes

Culture also plays a role in and can help cause eating disorders. Every day, we are besieged with messages about beauty, unrealistic body images and fad diets. Patients with eating disorders are abnormally preoccupied with food, oftentimes labeling certain foods as “good” or “bad”.
No matter what the cause, any eating disorder is treatable with the care of a specialized care team. If you of someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, please call us at 877-825-8584 for a free, confidential assessment with a Masters-level clinician.

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