What Causes Anorexia?

Anorexia is a severe eating disorder, but what causes anorexia? This is an important question as approximately 9% of Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. When left untreated, anorexia can be fatal. Understanding the causes can prevent the development of anorexia. There are many treatments available for you or a loved one, if anorexia has already developed.

What Is Anorexia?

Anorexia is a mental disorder in which individuals starve themselves to achieve abnormally low body weight. People struggling with anorexia obsess over their physical appearance. They often become disappointed with any perceived flaw. They often see themselves as being fat or larger than they really are. People with anorexia eventually develop serious health issues. These associated health issues make eating disorders  the most deadly mental disorders.

What Causes Anorexia?

Although every person’s situation is different, there are a few common causes of anorexia. One or more of these causes is usually behind anorexia. Disordered eating behaviors affect people of every race, gender, age and background.


Genetics play a large role in the development of anorexia. The odds of developing an eating disorder are higher if a relative has had one. Studies have shown that genetics contribute to 40%-60% percent of eating disorder cases. Although research is ongoing, there is proof that genetic factors cause a predisposition to disordered eating. Those in close relation tend to share similar personality traits that may also contribute to anorexia. Emotional sensitivity, perfectionism, and obsessive thought patterns are just a few among them. Anorexia may also be linked to underlying genetic disorders such as depression or anxiety. While genetics are a factor in the development of anorexia, they are typically not the sole cause.

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors are the main contributors to the development of eating disorders. Anorexia is linked to depression, anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). These mental disorders affect thought patterns and the way they view themselves. Those suffering from depression may develop anorexia as a way to cope or feel more in control. In worrying about their appearance, anxiety sufferers may turn to an eating disorder as a solution. OCD compels people to obsess over small details, such as weight or food intake. Psychological factors are almost always present in individuals struggling with an eating disorder such as anorexia.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors are among the more general causes of this eating disorder. These factors include pressure from celebrities to look thin, or pressure from friends to look more like them. These factors may also include exposure to anorexia. For example, if you witnessed your mother’s disordered eating behaviors, you’re likely to think they’re normal and replicate them. These conditions are among the most harmful because they can be inescapable. From magazine covers, to insulting comments, these triggers reinforce the urge to develop disordered eating. Environmental factors can also induce psychological disorders like depression or anxiety.

Anorexia Treatment

Anorexia is a disorder that should not be ignored. There are treatment options available for those struggling with this eating disorder.

Medical Treatment for Anorexia

When someone has anorexia they become malnourished, muscles become weak, and the body has trouble functioning. Because many serious side effects can occur, seeking medical help is important. Clinicians can administer nutrients back into the body, and develop a food and exercise regimen. By monitoring progress, they can help restore a patient’s health.

It is important to remember that anorexia is a disease. Diseases require medical attention. Receiving medical treatment for disordered eating behaviors is often necessary to obtain optimal health.

Therapy for Anorexia

Once the individual is strong enough, therapy is a good next step. Therapists work to identify the source of the eating disorder, confront past traumas, and treat coexisting mental disorders. Therapy helps prevent relapse and rebuild confidence.

Anorexia affects a person’s body and mind. Although patients may feel shame or guilt about their disorder, they are not alone. Eating disorders are very common and specialized therapists are trained in this area. To restore health, both the body and mind must be treated.

Trust the Professionals

It is important to understand what causes anorexia. A serious eating disorder, anorexia is caused by various factors. Fortunately, disordered eating behaviors can be corrected with proper treatment. At Riverwalk Recovery Center, we are experienced in treating these types of disorders, regardless of what caused them.

Our proven therapies provide effective relief from anorexia and other eating disorders. Our team of therapists and nutritionists work with you to locate the source of tanorexia and help you overcome it. You deserve to have a healthy relationship with food and yourself restored, and we can help you achieve that. You do not have to fight this battle with anorexia alone. We understand what you are going through and we are ready to help.

If you or a loved one is struggling with anorexia and needs help, call us today. Together, we will beat this disorder.

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