Do you use food to calm negative emotions or traumas?
Do even happy events feel stressful to you, leading you to use food to cope?
Do you purge to get rid of excess calories and psychic pain, then binge again to escape problems in your day-to-day life?
Do you isolate, have stigma and physiological changes wrought by the eating disorders themselves?
Certain psychological factors and personality traits may predispose people to develop an eating disorder. Many people with eating disorders suffer from low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness, and intense dissatisfaction with the way they look.
Specific traits are linked to each of the disorders. People with anorexia tend to be perfectionistic, while people with bulimia are often impulsive. Physical factors such as genetics also may play a role in putting people at risk.
A wide range of situations can precipitate eating disorders in susceptible individuals. Family members or friends may repeatedly tease people about their bodies. Individuals may be participating in gymnastics or other sports that emphasize low weight or a certain body image. Negative emotions or traumas such as rape, abuse, or the death of a loved one can also trigger disorders. Once people start engaging in abnormal eating behaviors, the problem can perpetuate itself. Eating disorders are also associated with other mental disorders like depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.
Eating disorders often don't go away on their own. And leaving them untreated can have serious consequences. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that one in ten anorexia cases ends in death from starvation, suicide, or medical complications like heart attacks or kidney failure.
Eating disorders can devastate the body. Physical problems associated with eating disorders include anemia, palpitations, hair and bone loss, tooth decay, esophagitis, and the cessation of menstruation. People with binge eating disorder may develop high-blood pressure, diabetes, and other problems associated with obesity.