What Causes Eating Disorders

Education is an important part of comprehensive treatment at Castlewood, and understanding what causes eating disorders is part of this educational process for clients and their families. Eating disorders can have many different origins. The prevailing view among researchers and clinicians at this time is a Bio-Psycho-Social Model, meaning that eating disorders develop from multiple factors. These factors include:
  • Genetics
  • Psychological factors
  • Social experiences and interactions
Each of these factors affect different people in very different ways. Helping clients understand what are the causes of eating disorders in a personal and meaningful way is one of the most important parts of the treatment and recovery process.

A Closer Look at the Causes of Eating Disorders

Genetics is a factor, specifically when it comes to temperament and personality, which may predispose a person to develop an eating disorder. A recent study has also shown that people with families that have eating disorders common across more than one generation actually have some mutations in two separate genes. These specific mutations are rare, but they significantly increase a person's risk for developing an eating disorder. Psychological factors such as co-occurring anxiety disorders or major depression are risk factors as well. There are other psychological and social aspects commonly seen in clients with eating disorders:
  • For some clients, there is a fear of growing up and assuming adult responsibilities.
  • Others function well externally, but inside are deeply confused.
  • Some are trapped in the role of perfectionism, being “the good child.”
  • Some clients experienced a major loss during childhood.
  • Some experienced tremendous pain in social interactions.
  • Some clients’ families suffer from generations of unresolved trauma.
  • Some client’s families are enmeshed, without appropriate boundaries.

Recovery Is Possible, Regardless of What Causes Eating Disorders

Once the eating disorder takes hold as a “survival strategy,” it can take on a life of its own, perpetuating a cycle of anxiety and isolation. As the cycle continues, it takes more of the same behavior to achieve the desired effect – more restriction, more food, more binging and purging, diet pills, laxatives, exercise, etc. When a client is no longer dependent on the eating disorder, the whole world can feel upside-down, and initially, impossible to manage. This sense of crisis is a key reason Castlewood exists. We provide a safe, well-cushioned container for the distress, along with the support of a caring community, to help clients learn how to stabilize, rebuild and transform their lives Eating disorder treatment at Castlewood involves understanding each client, and then providing the right combination of evidence-based and innovative approaches. We excel in providing the most current, and compassionate care, and understanding the deeper elements of what causes eating disorders in our clients. Our exceptional clinicians are dedicated to providing the best care for each client at Castlewood, and helping them begin their recovery journey.
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