Psychological Causes of Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia Nervosa can be described through the psychological perspective. This means an individual uses binging and purging as a way to deal with overpowering emotions. Some factors linked to the psychological view include depression, low self-esteem, damaged self worth, trouble communicating with family and incapability to manage their emotions.
Bulimics are often depressed because they are unhappy with way they look. To cope with this emotion, they use binging on a regular basis. According to Ira M. Sacker (2005), depression in people with eating disorders typically has its own unique features. “People who develop eating disorders feel as people that they’re not good enough,” Sacker says. He also states, “They become obsessed with perfectionism. That perfectionism begins to focus on what they eat. But underlying it is depression and anxiety. Often, these patients have suffered a lot of emotional trauma.”
Individuals who feel that they may be worthless, useless, and unattractive are associated to low self-esteem issues. Some factors that relate to low self-esteem are depression, perfectionism, childhood abuse and a critical home environment. Studies have shown the idea that those who suffer from an eating disorder are more likely to have lower self-esteem than those who do not have an eating disorder (e.g. de la Rie, Noordenbos, & Furth, 2005; Hesse-Biber, Marino, Watts-Roy, 1999). These studies among others revealed that such eating disorders are linked with lower levels of self-worth and perception of self-concept.
Stress is another major risk factor for developing the disorder. Bulimia Nervosa can be brought on through traumatic life experiences including death, divorce and other life changing
events. Other reasons for developing this condition are caused by family problems, arguments and criticism, and sexual abuse.
Memory loss can be a side effect with this eating disorder. Individuals may find themselves unable to remember when their last meal was and if they have even eaten at all. This could be part of the memory loss or what researchers call disassociation. Disassociation is the unconscious mind process that disturbs a person’s thoughts, feelings or memories. Family members often notice signs of memory loss before the individual can which is a reason why family member should get involved and can be a big part to dealing with this issue.
Anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, otherwise known as OCD, is most popular when it comes to individuals with an eating disorder. Unfortunately, there are cases where OCD is combined with bulimia which causes an over obsession with weighing and measuring precisely the amount of food intake. Betty E. Chesler, who is a therapist in private practice, provides a case studying the relationships between panic and eating disorders and four case studies examining the impact of stress, fear of fatness, and panic disorder with agoraphobia on eating disorders. Chesler’s first case study describes how stress, fear of fatness, and panic disorder with agoraphobia combined to change an individual’s eating disorder from bulimia to food restriction (Chesler, 1995).
This article has shown there are many risk factors that contribute to the development of this condition. Learning, memory, personality traits, emotions/moods and cognition are some of the major reasons for an individual to be diagnosed with the eating disorder. Although this is a tough condition to get over, help from family and friends can assist with getting through such a problem.
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