Eating disorders are complicated diseases that should be treated as such. Very little is known about them and it is easy to assume that those with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder simply want to “look good”. Making this judgment is extremely harmful to those suffering from these disorders and further serves to plunge an already distressed psyche, further into darkness.
Little is still known about eating disorders, but they are thought to be abnormal activity across multiple neural systems. This makes studying and pinpointing specific abnormalities extremely difficult for doctors and researchers. Eating disorders have been found to run in families, so more research is being done into the genetic factors. With so many underlying causes, it is impossible to accuse someone with an eating disorder or just being vain.
While an eating disorder may start through restrictive eating behaviors, these behaviors can take on a life of their own and have serious consequences for the sufferer. It is important to note that someone with an eating disorder does not have it through any failure of willpower, but it is rather a deep-seated mental and physical health issue. Depression is a common factor in most people suffering from an eating disorder.
One very common experience among those with eating disorders is the feeling they have no control over their lives. Many times, people feel that the only thing they have control over is food consumption or expulsion. This feeling of lack of control can result from many different things in a person’s childhood or life experiences.
Other major factors in eating disorders include societal pressures to be thin or live up to a certain body standard, depression, stress, loneliness, anger, history of abuse, history of being ridiculed for weight or size, rocky personal relationships, and low self-esteem.
Before judging someone with an eating disorder, it is important to remember that there are probably some serious underlying causes. We never know what someone else has experienced in their life, or what results from those experiences. Knowing that eating disorders are a deeper psychological issue rather than about simple vanity or looks is incredibly important. Having a healthy relationship with food is essential to living fully, and those with eating disorders need help to regain that relationship.
Much is still unknown about eating disorders, but more research is being done every day to help those who suffer from them. Discovering more predispositions, causes, and treatments are essential to removing the stigma of simple vanity associated with eating disorders.