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Three Common Ways to Develop an Eating Disorder

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There are many myths about eating disorders, but the truth is that people of any age, shape or size can develop an eating disorder.

Here are the three most common ways that a person can develop an eating disorder:

Self-Esteem Issues

Many of us have self-esteem issues, but for some of us it can be harder to cope with low self-esteem than others. Low self-confidence can cause someone not to care for his or herself. However, the cause of negative self-image can run much deeper than just body image issues. On the surface, an eating disorder seems to be all about weight and perfection, but the desire to reach a certain size may be a symptom of an underlying self-loathing.

For many, developing an eating disorder can occur when other efforts to increase confidence have failed or have not been recognize by others. Our society's obsession with physical appearance can make things harder as well. This occurs because the ideal of beauty has become attached to thinness. When a person has not created a solid, internal personal opinion of his or herself, society’s external opinions can dominate his or her self-image. These external pressures paired with inner pain and self-hatred can trigger the development of an eating disorder.

Co-existing Disorders

In many instances, having a mental illness such as depression, anxiety or other mood disorder can contribute to a need for control. Someone struggling with mental illness may find it extremely difficult to self-regulate when his or her mind says he or she is overweight. An eating disorder can provide a person who does not feel in control of his or her emotions or thoughts with a destructive way to cope. Binge eating, food restriction and purging can become tools for self-medication when a person struggling with mental illness sees no other way out.

A 2008 study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center reported that 24 percent of bipolar patients met the criteria for eating disorders. Researchers also found that an estimated 44 percent of all those surveyed had trouble controlling their eating. Without understanding how a mental illness is affecting you, an eating disorder can develop quickly. It is important to keep in mind that in situations like these it is best to address both disorders.

Disconnect with the Body

A person is at his/her best when the mind, body, and soul are connected. Although this may sound too holistic for some, being unable to listen to the needs of one's body and mind can cause real health issues. A person's body and mind can alert the soul, the essence of who you are, when something does not feel or seem right. This process happens naturally. The body alerts you to when it is hungry, tired and in pain. When you listen to the signals your body sends, you can respond accordingly. However, when you are not in touch with your body, you are unable to respond because you are not properly receiving the signals.

An eating disorder can develop as the result of faulty internal communication. Wanting control of something coming from the mind, for example, may take the place of the hungry signal coming from the body. People with eating disorders can have trouble identifying and describing their feelings due to this disconnect with the body. In many instances, this disconnection can be the result of experiencing traumas such as sexual abuse or dysfunctional relationships with parents. Understanding how these three conditions can be the spring board for the development of an eating disorder is essential to discovering which type of treatment can work best for you.

Source: PsychCentral