While there is no single cause of Anorexia Nervosa, there can be many contributing factors that contribute to the likelihood of somebody developing the disease and embarking upon an unhealthy cycle of behaviour.
Experts believe that Anorexia can be caused by a variety of factors and combination of psychological, environmental and biological factors leading to a destructive cycle of behaviour.
There is a belief that some distinct personality traits make somebody more vulnerable towards developing anorexia. They may have a tendency towards depression and anxiety or deal with stress badly. They may suffer from excessive worrying and are scared and doubtful of their future. Some sufferers may also strive for perfectionism as well as feelings of obsession and compulsion. It can also be common for anorexics to appear inhibited.
The absence of a normal diet can have a biological effect on the brain and reinforce the obsessive thinking and behaviour associated with anorexia. This can develop into a dangerous cycle as the more a person diets, the greater effect on the brain and a greater desire to lose weight. This leads to symptoms gradually and rapidly getting worse.
It also believed that the system controlling a person’s sense of appetite can become disrupted in anorexics. The appetite is controlled by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus which tells the body when it needs more food by releasing chemicals to stimulate appetite. When the body has eaten enough, hormones signal the hypothalamus to release a different set of chemicals which essentially reward the body for eating and feel satisfied. In anorexics, it’s believed that this reward pathway becomes scrambled and that fullness after meals instead issues a sense of anxiety, guilt and self-loathing instead.
It is believed that environmental factors such as puberty and an image-obsessed western culture can also be a contributing factor towards developing anorexia. Hormonal changes and low self-esteem during puberty can lead teenage boys and girls to develop the disease as a reaction to their changing bodies.
It is also thought that the influence of a culture obsessed with being thin can have an influential effect on body image and the development of anorexia. There has been much focus on magazines and tabloids highlighting so-called imperfections on celebrities and any weight gain, as well as excessive photoshopping promoting an unrealistic expectation of beauty.
Whatever triggered anorexia in an individual, it is important that the sufferer receives anorexia help. Professional help at a rehab facility will help address the problem and its roots causes, working towards a solution to recovery.