What causes someone to have an eating disorder?

Great question! That’s a very common question when it comes to understanding eating disorders. Many wonder about the root cause and what drives people to resort to eating disorder behaviors and thinking in the first place. Eating disorders are complex and the reasons behind their development are often unique to the individual. There can be many factors that contribute to the problem, including (but not limited to):

  • Personality
  • Genetic factors
  • Biological factors
  • Environment
  • Stress
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor body image
  • Bullying
  • Perfectionism
  • Family dynamics
  • Traumatic experience
  • Media consumption
  • Sports performance
  • Culture

Oftentimes, there isn’t just one single cause or factor to blame for an eating disorder. In order to understand the risk factors of someone developing an eating disorder, we should be taking a look at the full picture of what is going on in that person’s life. Eating disorders are often a coping mechanism and there is the dangerous belief that controlling one’s diet, how they look, and what they weigh is firmly within their control and a way to be productive and/or healthy. While each person may have their own reasons and experiences that contribute to an eating disorder, there are often some common factors and personality traits that up the risk of an individual having one.