Reasons behind the eating disorder

By on June 5, 2011

“More die in the United States of too much food than of too little”-says John Kenneth Galbraith a famous American Economist. Not only in America but also in most of the countries obesity has been found out to be the prime cause of fatality. All of us have a love and craze for food. In fact it is for that food we all work. However unhealthy food habits can lead to several diseases like blood pressure, thyroid, cancer and many more. People who eat without any control are said to suffer from eating disorder. Their abnormal eating habits threaten can even ruin their lives. However, eating disorder is a psychological problem, which when treated properly can be cured.

Types of eating disorders

Eating disorder can be classified into three major types (Abraham S, 2001). They are

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Binge Eating Disorder

Anorexia nervosa is a case in which people refuse to eat, thinking that they may put weight. The fear of becoming fat prevents them from eating. These people sometimes may even starve to death.

Bulimia nervosa is just the opposite scenario. In this case, people eat excess of food and voluntarily take steps to empty their stomach by purging and vomiting. They start eating again once their stomach is empty.

Binge Eating Disorder is similar to Bulimia nervosa where the people affected with this disorder, compulsorily overeat. The only difference between both is that people suffering from Bulimia nervosa never get themselves involved in purging, vomiting, etc.


The National Institute of Mental Health has identified that women are prone to eating disorders when compared with men.  Older women are easily prone to this disease.

Many people suffer from eating disorders that even their family members and friends would not be aware of. Such people prevent eating in public places to hide the problem they have from others. Proper diagnosing and treatment will definitely help people recover from illness.

Psychological reasons behind eating disorder

Eating disorders may be caused due to personality traits and certain psychological factor (Costin C, 2006). People with eating disorders, in general, suffer from helpless feelings, extreme dissatisfaction with their appearance and low self-esteem.

Eating disorders are related with certain traits too. People suffering from Bulimia nervosa tend o be impulsive, while people suffering from anorexia nervosa exhibit perfectionism.

There are several situations that may lead to eating disorders. Some people are subject to this disease due to repeated teasing by friends and family members, on their physical appearance. Participation in gymnastics and sports activities may require individuals observe a strict diet, resulting in anorexia nervosa. Traumas such as abuse, rape or death of a beloved person can also lead to eating disorders. Negative emotions can cause eating disorder. In some cases, happy events such as giving birth to a baby can result in eating disorders.

Treating eating disorders

Eating disorders do not get cured on their own. Leaving them untreated can cause even death. It has been estimated that a majority of patients suffering from anorexia nervosa die due to health problems such as kidney failure or heart attack.  They die due to starvation or even by committing suicide.

The whole body would be ruined due to eating disorder. Eating disorders causes problems such as palpitations, anemia, hair loss, bone loss and changes in menstrual cycle.  Binge eating disorder causes diabetes and blood pressure. It can result in obesity related problems too.

Eating disorders are related with other type of disorders such as depression. The researchers have not figured out if eating disorders are symptoms of mental disorders or if the problems arise owing to stigma and isolation caused by eating disorder themselves.  Higher the rate of eating disorders such as depression, substance abuse and anxiety, higher is the rate of eating disorder.

Role of psychiatrists in helping people come out of eating disorders

Psychiatrists play an important role in treating patients suffering from eating disorders. The psychologist has to first identify the problem (Grilo C, 2009). Once the important issues have been identified the psychologist has to develop a treatment plan. The psychologist must help the patient come out of destructive emotions and thoughts. It is better if a patient is made to maintain a food diary that illustrates the time at which he or she overeats.

Changing the thoughts of the patient is alone not enough. The patient and psychiatrists has to work together to resolve the underlying issues that cause eating disorder, in order to,  have a long lasting.

Eating disorders have found to have been cured, when given proper treatments. Proper medication and counseling will definitely put an end to eating disorder.


  • Suzanne Abraham (2001), Eating disorders: the fact, New York: Oxford University Press
  • Carolyn Costin (2006), The eating disorder sourcebook: a comprehensive guide to the causes, treatments, and prevention of eating disorders, New York: McGraw-Hill Professional
  • Carlos M. Grilo (2009), The Treatment of Eating Disorders: A Clinical Handbook, New York: Guildford Press