Eating Disorder History
In people with an eating disorder history, professionals and concerned family members and friends usually want to know the causes of eating disorders. Unfortunately, sometimes the cause of the problem cannot be determined. Fortunately, not truly understanding the cause is not a significant barrier to treatment because treatment is usually fairly standard regardless of the root causes of the disorder. However, understanding the cause of the disorder can aid in treatment and also help people with eating disorders gain insight into their problems.
Eating Disorder History
To understand the likely causes of eating disorders, it is helpful to consider carefully the history of the eating disorder. At what age did the disorder begin to develop? Did any significant life changes occur near that time? Does anyone else in the family have a history of an eating disorder? Did any other problems such as symptoms of anxiety or depression or substance abuse begin around the same time as the eating disorder?
Professionals that treat eating disorders will examine a person’s eating disorder history to see if any contributing factors can be identified, but treatment can proceed and be successful even if the cause is never determined.
Causes of Eating Disorders
It is often difficult or impossible to determine the causes of eating disorders in a particular person. The causes are as varied as the individuals that suffer from eating disorders and often many different factors contribute to the development of an eating disorder in one individual. Some possible causes of eating disorders include:
Many different environmental factors can contribute to the development of eating disorders. Growing up in a family where someone else has an eating disorder can be a factor. Excessive exposure to the popular media in which extremely thin people are portrayed as beautiful and desirable can be a contributing factor. Cultural stereotypes apply further pressure on people to be thin at any cost. Certain vocations and activities also encourage extreme dieting, such as the modeling industry and many sports.
Understanding environmental factors that contribute to the development of eating disorders may be useful but it’s important not to blame others for a person’s problem. People do not develop anorexia or bulimia because of something their families do. Those may be contributing factors but are not a sole cause of eating disorders.
People with an eating disorder history often, but not always, have a history of trauma of some sort. They may have a history of childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault as an adult or they may have experienced some other form of trauma. In this case, understanding the history can be important because unless unresolved issues related to past trauma are addressed, eating disorders will likely continue or other psychological problems may take the place of an eating disorder.
Psychological factors like depression, anxiety disorders, body dysmorphic disorder and other psychological disorders can contribute to the development of eating disorders. In fact, when looking at someone’s eating disorder history, professionals also inquire about a family history of psychological disorders. A family history of depression or other psychological disorders increases the likelihood of someone developing anorexia or bulimia. Low self-esteem is yet another factor that can contribute to the development of eating disorders.
Some researchers believe there is a genetic component to eating disorders. It is possible that imbalances in neurotransmitters in the brain may also contribute to the development of eating disorders. More research into these factors may take place in the future, which could give us new tools for treating eating disorders.
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