Eating disorders are becoming increasingly more common, especially among young people and teens. While there are multiple pathways leading to the development of an eating disorder, there are certain risk factors that can increase one’s vulnerability to them. To assist those in the medical and mental health fields, such as therapists and psychiatrists, the following post will highlight the main psychological, emotional, and social risk factors that contribute to and shape a person’s emotional response, leading to an eating disorder.
Socio-cultural Risk Factors
A person’s cultural environment can play a substantial role in how they view themselves and their body image. Unhealthy or unrealistic body image images and pressures to obtain a certain type of body can trigger disordered behaviors such as restrictive dieting or over-exercising. Other socio-cultural factors are connected to popular expectation of thinness and body image, dieting, and food choices.
The relationships within a family can have an immense impact on an individual’s mental health and behaviors. If there are issues such as conflict, division, or estrangement, this can lead to feelings of stress, isolation, and low self-esteem. Additionally, if there is a lack of boundaries and expectations in the family, this can lead to difficulty in regulating impulse and can heighten anxiety and depressive symptoms which can ultimately lead to an eating disorder.
Personality traits such as perfectionism, low self-esteem, impulsivity, and sensitivity to criticism can all contribute to the development of an eating disorder. Perfectionism and a need for control can inspire yet make it difficult to reach goals related to body weight, while low self-esteem can lead to negative thoughts and self-criticism. Impulsivity can lead to making decisions that can ultimately harm one’s health if left unchecked.
Stressful Life Events
Stressful life events can also trigger the development of an eating disorder. Major life changes such as moving, changing schools, death, or divorce can increase one’s risk for developing an eating disorder. Additionally, suffering from trauma, bullying, or financial issues can also lead to the feelings of insecurity, worthlessness, and the urge to have control which are common precursors of an eating disorder.
Eating Disorder, Risk Factors, Mental Health, Body Image, Trauma, Unhealthy Habits, Genetics, Life Events, Psychology, Emotional, Social
To prevent eating disorders, it’s important for individuals to be aware of the risk factors so they can adjust their behaviors and seek help or therapy if needed. Additionally, recognizing the key symptoms associated with eating disorders can help identify potential problems at the outset and allow people to get the support they need.