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      Causes

      Eating disorders are complex disorders, influenced by a variety of factors with serious psychological and medical consequences.  It is believed to result from a combination of biological, psychological, and/or possible environmental disturbances, which can negatively affect health and well-being.

      Biological factors: Eating disorders are thought to have a genetic predisposition. It is not uncommon for several family members to be diagnosed with the disorder. Unfortunately, females are more likely to be afflicted. An individual’s chance of developing an eating disorder is nearly 75% determined by genetics. Women with a female family member diagnosed with an eating disorder are 12 times more likely to develop it themselves. When individuals begin to starve, binge, etc. those behaviors trigger brain chemistry changes which can create a slippery slope to a clinical disorder of which they were predisposed. 

      Interpersonal Factors/dysfunctional relationships: Any form of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse may trigger an eating disorder, which helps the individual cope with their trauma. Adverse parenting, for example, high expectations, constantly talking about body weight and family dieting, and obsession with body weight and image may contribute to personal trauma that can trigger a disorder. Professions and careers such as ballet and modeling that focus on body image, aesthetically oriented sports with an emphasis on maintaining a lean body for enhanced performance such as rowing, diving, gymnastics, etc. can also make an individual obsessive about their body image. Cultural and peer pressure among friends and co-workers are other reasons an individual may develop an eating disorder. 

      Premorbid characteristics: Low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, obesity, perfectionism, and personality disorders can all lead to eating disorders. Clinical studies have reported a general increase in eating psychopathology between adolescence and early childhood in female adolescents aged 12 to 19. A psychiatric interview among high school students with a repeat assessment at age 24 found those with either full- or partial-syndrome eating disorders during childhood were more likely to develop a similar syndrome in young adulthood than were comparison groups with depression or no psychiatric disorders. Childhood eating problems like pickiness with food, unpleasant meals, etc. increase the risk for a late diagnosis

      Societal factors play a role in portraying a low body weight is ideal and desirable. Self-esteem develops early in childhood and continues to develop through adolescence. When low self-esteem evolves it is commonly associated with setting an impossible goal, and the inability to reach this goal leads to a sense of failure. Many psychiatric illnesses are characterized by low self-esteem, but depression most notably triggers when a feeling of worthlessness sets in. Although depression and low self-esteem are common in individuals with eating disorders, low self-esteem can also occur without depressive symptoms, and it may precede the onset of the eating disorder by several years. 

      See eating disorders facts for more stats