Eating Disorders are very complex. Researchers don’t know exactly what causes Anorexia, Bulimia or Binge Eating, but concerns about weight and body shape play a role in all of them. People from all walks of life suffer from eating disorders; educated, wealthy, heavy, thin, those who have many or few friends, those who had a stable background and those who didn’t have loving parents.
There are three influences; genetic, social and psychological.
Genetic Factors: Anorexia is eight times more common in people who have relatives with the disorder. Many researchers believe there is a genetic predisposition to having an eating disorder. Studies have demonstrated that over-eating among identical twins if greater than the co-occurrence among fraternal twins. This would support an inherited theory because identical twins are generally more similar than fraternal twins.
Researchers have found that the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine are significantly decreased in acutely ill patients suffering from Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa. These neurotransmitters also function abnormally in individuals afflicted with depression. This leads some researchers to believe there may be a link between these two disorders. Besides creating a sense of physical and emotional satisfaction, the neurotransmitter serotonin also produces the effect of feeling full and having had enough food.
Other brain chemicals have also been explored for their possible role in eating disorders. Individuals with eating disorders like Anorexia, Bulimia or Compulsive Overeating have been shown to have a higher than normal level of the hormones vasopressin and cortisol. Both these hormones are normally released in response to physical and possible emotional stress, and may contribute to some of the dysfunction seen in eating disordered individuals.
Researchers have identified specific chromosomes that may be associated with bulimia and anorexia. In particular, regions on chromosome 10 have been linked to bulimia as well as obesity.
Sociological Factors: Our family, friends and society in general have a significant influence. The media here in the United States has a great impact on all of us. Some researchers think that media images in movies, advertising and music video give a false idea of what attractiveness is and establishes these images as the ideal way to look which is impossible to achieve. We are shown what we should look like and taught that our happiness is dependent on it. We learn and accept what we’re surrounded with. You’ve heard the old adage garbage in garbage out unfortunately there is too much garbage going in to us in this culture.
Athletes including those involved in swimming, basketball, gymnastics, track, dance, cheerleading are more focused on their bodies. When in uniform, fewer clothes are worn and the athletes may be more susceptible to eating disorders.
Some researchers think that media images in movies, advertising and music video give a false idea of what attractiveness is and establishes these images as the ideal way to look which is impossible to achieve. Other issues like OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and anxiety may also be present in those with eating disorders.
Psychological Factors: Just as an alcoholic uses alcohol to deal with emotions, some people use food to deal with life’s experiences that seem overwhelming. Practicing the eating disorder may bring a sense of partial control over their seemingly uncontrollable life. Some underlying issues that are associated with an eating disorder include: low self esteem, depression, feelings of loss of control, feelings of worthlessness, identity concerns, family communication problems and an inability to cope with emotions.
It is interesting to figure out why someone has an eating disorder, knowing why can help us prevent it from happening in the future. Everyone who suffers with such problems needs to realize, there is a way to heal. If you’d like individual help with this or other problems, put your name and email address to the right. I’ll give you ½ hour free consultation.