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About Anorexia Nervosa

What causes an eating disorder?

Research has not identified a single cause to date. However, the role of genetics in eating disorders has been a subject of research for many years. Studies of families and twins have confirmed that eating disorders run in families because of shared genetic factors. 

Eating disorders often develop at the same time as going through a life changing or difficult experience, a stressful event or trauma.


For example:

  • Changing school

  • Identity issues

  • Puberty

  • Serious family problems

  • Parents going through a divorce

  • Pressures of school, exams or being bullied

  • Physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

  • Leaving home for the first time

Social pressures can also contribute towards eating disorders

Social media is a huge part in today’s society and although it would not be the sole reason for a young person to develop an eating disorder, it can play a significant part along with other contributory factors.

Social media has a strong influence on how we think we should look, selfies, airbrushed photographs and unrealistic standards of beauty.

Every person who suffers from an eating disorder has a unique history, brain chemistry alongside psychosocial factors that determine how they will be affected.

People with eating problems often share common personality traits which can make them more vulnerable to developing the illness.

  • Self critical of themselves

  • Being competitive

  • Perfectionism - never satisfied with their achievements

  • Lack of confidence

Early symptoms of an eating disorder

  • Dramatic weight loss

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Tiredness

  • Cutting food into small pieces

  • Eating very slowly

  • Wanting to eat alone or making excuses not to eat with others

  • Change in personality and behaviour

  • Wearing baggy clothes to hide the weight loss

  • Lying about what they have eaten

  • Sudden increase in exercise or in excessive exercising

  • Frequently visiting the bathroom after meals

  • Obsessing over food and calories

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