Topic Overview

Certain needs, fears, family dynamics, and ways of communicating, thinking, and feeling put a person at greater risk of developing an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating. Some of these include:footnote 1

  • A need for attention.
  • A need to please others, be in control, or be perfect.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Fear or ambivalence about growing up or developing sexually.
  • Difficulty dealing with conflict or communicating anger, sadness, or fear.
  • Problems with family relationships, including trouble separating from the family.

However irrational, an eating disorder brings a sense of identity, achievement, and power to certain people who have these personality traits.

A small number of people who have eating disorders also have been sexually or physically abused. They may seek to control their environment by controlling their food intake.

People who have eating disorders may also:

  • Have problems with moods, particularly depression.
  • Act more childish than other children or teens who are the same age.
  • Have difficulty getting along with other people, because of either irritability or an inability to interact socially.
  • Have rituals or require that things be done in a particular order every time (obsessive-compulsive traits).

References

Citations

  1. Katzman DK, Golden NH (2008). Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. In LS Neinstein et al., eds., Adolescent Health Care: A Practical Guide, 5th ed., 477-493. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. Stewart Agras, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry

Current as ofMay 3, 2017