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What Causes an Eating Disorder?

It's very difficult to pinpoint one component that "causes" an eating disorder. The disordered eating may begin with a diet, which gets out of hand, and out of control. It could begin after a person has been ill or had surgery, and the accompanying weight loss feels good, or is supported by positive comments from others. Most often a person who develops an eating disorder, be it anorexia or bulimia, may also exhibit certain personality traits even before the onset of the disorder. These may include an obsessive/compulsive component, anxiety, a need for order and certainty, perfectionism, media/peer pressure, social fears, low self-esteem and a strong need/desire for control in their life. In recovery from an eating disorder, the first step is of course weight stabilization, and refeeding the body and the brain. Even people with bulimia suffer from starvation symptoms, even if their weight is not dangerously low, because they are not utilizing the calories they ingest for any number of reasons...including purging, overexercising, laxative abuse, diuretics, among other compensatory behaviors. Recovery is somewhat like peeling an onion. You have to peel away the factors maintaining the eating disorder, one by one, and soon the true person will blossom and emerge.