Psychological Factors in Eating Disorders

psychological-factors-in-eating-disordersEating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating are caused by a number of social, biological and psychological factors. The social factors that contribute to eating disorders include the following:

  • Body image distortion
  • Low self-esteem
  • Negative body image

These factors can be brought on by the media, celebrities and the glorification of the perfect body. Other factors that contribute to eating disorders include mental health issues. Eating disorders are more than a plea for attention. They affect men and women of all ages, races and sexual orientations. Eating disorders are disorders caused by deep-rooted social, biological and psychological factors that a person cannot overcome without help.

Emotional and Psychological Causes of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are often caused by a mental illness or emotional condition that a person finds too overwhelming to deal with. Controlling food intake allows a personate to compensate for their inability to control their mental and emotional pain. An eating disorder can be seen as a coping mechanism. Purging, dieting or bingeing becomes an obsession, and it consumes a user mentally and emotionally. Emotional and psychological causes of eating disorders can include the following:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Inability to deal with stress
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Loneliness
  • Anger
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder

Emotional and psychological disorders or problems may be brought on by an eating disorder. Once a person develops an eating disorder, he or she may develop severe anxiety or depression. Eating disorders are often related to other addictive or self-destructive behavior such as alcoholism, drug addiction and self-injury or mutilation.

How Eating Disorders Affect Your Physical Health

The dangers of eating disorders are harsh and have profound effects on the body. The body undergoes extreme stress when a person is not eating or is bingeing and purging. Malnutrition and dehydration are obvious consequences of an eating disorder, while other effects include the following:

  • Respiratory infections
  • Kidney failure
  • Blindness
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Paralysis
  • Heart attack
  • Brain damage
  • Seizures
  • Death

Purging can lead to cancer of the throat, tearing of the esophagus, gastrointestinal bleeding and tooth decay. Lack of proper nutrition can lead to a multitude of health problems. Food is the body’s energy source, and by taking that away a person disrupts every system and organ in the human body.

Treating an Eating Disorder and a Mental Health Issue

A person suffering from both an eating disorder and a mental health issue must address all co-occurring concerns. If an eating disorder is caused by a psychological factor such as depression, the depression and eating disorder are going to perpetuate and exacerbate each other. Eating disorders and mental health issues create an endless cycle, unless both are treated simultaneously. An integrated treatment approach understands the psychological factors that play into eating disorders and acts to treat both conditions at the same time. In order for a person to recover from an eating disorder they must heal their whole self and not just their physical self.

Finding Integrated Treatment for Eating Disorders

If you or a loved one is in need of help for an eating disorder, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our counselors are standing by 24 hours a day to help you find the treatment solutions that may save you or a loved one’s life.