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The Psychology of Eating Disorders

According to statistics provided by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), there are up to 24 million people in the United States who suffer from eating disorders. This includes people of all ages and both genders and can result in premature death or other serious health problems.

Although common perceptions regarding eating disorders involve a belief that the afflicted person has a desire to be thin, more often than not, there are other underlying causes behind an eating disorder.

Several factors can cause the onset of an eating disorder, or turn negative eating habits into a full-blown condition. These causes can include certain personality traits and psychological factors, high-stress events, abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and difficult family life.

8 Comments to
The Psychology of Eating Disorders

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  1. This is great information. Where would you recommend a person go to seek help with their eating disorder? A GP to start is obvious, can you be more specific?

    • It depends. If you are the stereotype (white, teenager & female) a GP is a good option. My experience has shown that most GP’s are not informed about EDs. In fact, mine told me I was lucky to have such a low blood pressure & weight at my age. I almost died a month later. Contact an evidence based treatment center. We are talking about a deadly mental disorder that needs specialized help.

  2. Food addiction and disorders are tough to tackle by oneself, you can’t go very long without a eating and the act of eating triggers many responses. Either psychological and/or physical, the person needs to begin with unpacking their issues surrounding it. Once unpacked it gets easier to tackle the issue at hand.

  3. Really informative and appreciable post! I liked it. I would also like to know the same that where would you prefer a person to go who is seeking for help related to their food disorder. Hope to hear you soon. Thanks for such a wonderful post!

  4. Nice revealing post . Can you please suggest what type of specialists to go first to treat eating disorder? A physician or a psychological councilor ?

  5. It is informative and useful post for all people who are suffered from Eating Disorders. One of my cousin have faced this problem but now he will be fit after Harmony Grove treatment.

  6. Want to bring up a couple of important points I think this article may have overlooked:

    We now have pretty good evidence that eating disorders are highly heritable. Multiple large-cohort twin studies have found that anorexia nervosa, for example, has a heritability of around 50% (schizophrenia has around the same). So, while cultural and environmental factors often play a role in the development of these disorders, some people are much more susceptible to eating disorders than others.

    Additionally, evidence-based treatment guidelines stress that nutritional rehabilitation and, at least in anorexia, weight restoration, are core elements to a good recovery. Some of the points of therapeutic focus mentioned above, like trauma, should not be targets of early recovery. A starving brain cannot properly engage in many forms of therapy.

  7. I just recently turned 40 and am finally gaining some ground trying to wrench myself free from the ED I began at 17 after bein shown and educational film about Anorexia and Bulimia in Health class. Looking back now, the Domino effect is obvious. Within 18 months, my grandfather who was a father figure to me emotionally and whom we saw several times a week died unexpectedly, my parents separated and my mom took to screaming and crying around the clock in her grief, my father was completely involved in his ‘new life’, I was formally diagnosed as incapable of ever being pregnant (Motherhood was my dream from age 3), and my first love broke up with me after 2 years and went away to college 7 states away and met someone new. And I’d always been about 10 lbs overweight and verbally bullied greatly for it, and my mom wouldn’t allow me to make any choices about my diet at home.Then at age 21 I was raped multiple times and kidnapped overnight.
    An Ed was not my only choice but it does not really surprise me that I took this road back then. At this point an ED is well my norm and I am in the process of (re)training my body to understand the difference between hunger and craving sugar because I am tired or in need of other things (minerals, protein, healthy fats, etc) and to feel and recognize satiation.



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