Eating Disorders and Their Causes in Women

According the Mayo Clinic, the most common eating disorders in women are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder. The exact cause for these eating disorders is unknown, but there are many reasons why individuals may end up with an eating disorder. This article will discuss the issues that are believed to causes bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder.


Researchers are beginning to believe that there are genes that make certain people more susceptible to developing an eating disorder. Science shows that an individual who has a direct relative, such as a sibling or parent, with an eating disorder is more likely to also develop an eating disorder. Due to this reason, researchers believe there is a genetic link.

Another biological link to eating disorders is found in the brain chemical, serotonin. It appears that individuals who suffer from a lower level of serotonin are more susceptible to an eating disorder. Additionally, these individuals often respond well to medications that increase serotonin levels and are able to overcome their disorderly eating habits.


In most Western societies, imagines of skinny women are abundant on television, in magazines and in the movies. Almost all ads and runways contain models that are an unattainable size. Often, women equate success and self-worth with how they look and with how skinny they are. In particular, women appear to fuel and motivate this desire to be thin amongst one another by constantly discussing diets and weight.

Sometimes eating disorders are related to specific careers that encourage women to be thin. This is why women in ballet, gymnastics, modeling or advertising have a higher likelihood of having an eating disorder.

Mental Health

In addition to serotonin levels, women may also be affected by other psychological and emotional issues that can lead to an eating disorder. Low self-esteem, impulsive behavior, perfectionism and conflict can all lead to eating disorders. When life feels out of control, women may begin to obsessively control their eating habits, which can lead to an eating disorder.

Combination of Causes

While doctors support that all the above reasons could lead to an eating disorder, they actually believe that it is a combination of biological, social and behavioral factors. When a woman is coping with low-self esteem, a stressful career and a fear of becoming overweight, this mentality can lead to an anxiety disorder, depression or substance abuse. Eating disorders often accompany all of these behaviors.

Eating disorders can lead to a range of health problems and even death. If you suffer from an eating disorder, or you suspect that a loved one does, try to seek out treatment as soon as possible. Rarely are eating disorders overcome with willpower. Professional treatment is designed to treat all of these different issues that may have caused an eating disorder. Each person’s reasons for an eating disorder is unique and treatment should be individualized to maximize success.


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