Eating Disorders: Psychological Factors

Eating disorders (EDs) are serious mental health disorders characterized by disordered eating behaviors, overevaluation of weight and shape, and preoccupation with food. Although disordered eating is often the most conspicuous symptom, at their core, EDs are fundamentally psychological disorders. This entry briefly reviews important psychological factors (cognitive and emotional) that are relevant to the onset and maintenance of the three primary EDs: (1) anorexia nervosa (AN), (2) bulimia nervosa (BN), and (3) binge eating disorder (BED).

Cognitive Factors

Individuals with eating disorders have elevated levels of alexithymia, which is characterized by difficulty in identifying thoughts and feelings, and in differentiating between feelings and bodily sensations. It is theorized that individuals with eating disorders experience emotions as unacceptable and may use disordered eating as a means to cope ...

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