The key factors to eating disorders
The Royal College of Psychiatrists states that girls are ten times more likely than boys to suffer from an eating disorder, and although eating disorders most commonly develop in adolescence they can affect
both younger children and older adults. In the Trust’s Eating Disorder Service, we certainly have more female patients than male and although we are an adult service (taking patients from the age of 16) many who are referred to the service do not fit the stereotypical picture of an underweight adolescent girl. Patients are typically aged 18-40 although eating disorders can affect people across all ages.
Causes of eating disorders
It is unlikely that there will be a single reason why someone has developed an eating disorder; it is more likely to be a combination of factors. These can include any of the following, although this list is not exhaustive by any means:
• depression/low-self esteem
• peer/social pressure
• family difficulties
• emotional/psychological distress
• biological factors.
Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that affect a large number of people and can have serious consequences. They often develop in adolescence and do not have a single cause. Consistent with this picture is the fact that they have a high incident of ‘co-morbidity’, which is when there are other psychiatric or psychological problems present. These can include depression, anxiety disorder or personality disorder.
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