Anxiety

What Leads to an Eating Disorder?

New research has identified triggers for eating disorders. Lack of support following traumatic events such as bereavement, relationship problems, abuse and sexual assault can contribute to the development of anorexia or bulimia. Changing schools or moving one’s home can also provide enough stress to trigger the disorders.

“The aim of our study was to find out if there was any link between transitional events in family life and the onset of eating disorders,” explained lead author Dr. Jerica M. Berge, Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University. “Eating disorders are an important public health issue and knowing what causes them can help us to develop more effective treatment and support.”

They found six themes around the transitional events that triggered the eating disorders:
1) School transition. This occurs between lower schools and upon entering college.
2) Relationship changes. A personal break-up or the dissolution of their parent’s marriage.
3) Death of a family member. Lack of support after the death of a family member or close friend.
4) Home and job transition. Family relocation or job loss led to eating disorders.
5) Illness or hospitalization. Often weight loss and resulting compliments for the weight loss made some feel good and they struggled to maintain the lower weight developing eating disorders in order to do so.
6) Abuse/sexual assault/incest. The feeling of isolation or desertion that comes with intimate betrayal and assault led to eating disorders.

Lack of support was the recurring theme. Hopefully these findings will inform families and professionals to provide support to avoid problems later.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of Clinical Nursing

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