For the past several years, Dr. Carol Lynn Childers has been concurrently serving as a consulting psychiatrist at Healthcare Alternative Systems (HAS) and the nonprofit Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare in Chicago. Through these positions, Dr. Carol Lynn Childers works with a variety of people with serious mental illnesses.
Anorexia and bulimia nervosa are both categorized as serious mental illnesses. These types of eating disorders, along with binge eating disorder, are all extremely complex and researchers don’t fully understand what causes them. However, it’s believed that eating disorders are influenced by psychological, biological, and social factors.
Biologically, research has discovered a link between eating disorders and families. Usually, having a close relative with an eating disorders means someone is more likely to also develop an eating disorder at some point in their life. Certain genotypes are also associated with a higher risk of developing an eating disorder, as is a history of dieting and type 1 diabetes.
In terms of psychological influences, people with particular traits have a higher chance of developing an eating disorder. These traits are often inherited, thus adding a deeper genetic component to the disorder. But some are learned, such as being unhappy with one’s body image or having a strong pull toward perfectionism. Obsessive thinking and neuroticism are other temperament factors that often exist in people with an eating disorder.
Finally, a person’s social environment may predispose them to an eating disorder. About 60 percent of people with an eating disorder cite teasing and bullying as a significant contributor to the development of their condition. Weight stigmas are also significant contributors to eating disorders, as is intergenerational trauma.