Risk Factors for Anorexia Nervosa | Counseling | Therapy

Risk Factors for Anorexia Nervosa : Eating Disorder Therapy in Philadelphia

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What are the Risk Factors for Anorexia Nervosa: While anyone can develop this disorder, certain people are more likely than others to suffer from it. Here are some of the risk factors associated with developing Anorexia Nervosa.

Risk factors for development of Anorexia Nervosa (please note, this is a list of risk factors that is not ranked in the order of importance):

  • Childhood Perfectionism
  • Poor body image
  • Entering puberty before peers
  • Childhood appetite and satiety deregulation
  • A history of childhood anxiety
  • A history of being teased or bullied by peers
  • A history of being teased by friends or family about weight
  • Having a maternal figure (Mother) who is focused on dietary restriction
  • Significant Difficulty discussing problems with parents
  • Being a member of any sport activity or industry where being underweight is praised and encouraged. For example there is more pressure on a individual to be a particular weight / size if they are involved in modeling, acting, wrestling, swimming, ballet dancing, gymnastics, figure skating, rowing, track or cross-country running.
  • Having a pear shaped body
  • Low self esteem
  • Unrealistic expectations from parents & caregivers

Anorexia is a serious and potentially life-threatening eating disorder that affects individuals of all ages, genders, and cultures. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), an estimated 0.9% to 4.3% of women and 0.3% to 0.4% of men will develop anorexia in their lifetime.

The prevalence of anorexia appears to be higher in industrialized countries, and in particular among Western cultures. It is also more common among young people, with the majority of cases typically appearing in individuals between the ages of 12 and 25.

It's important to note that while the exact cause of anorexia is unknown, a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors may contribute to its development. Early detection and treatment are crucial for improving outcomes and preventing complications, and individuals who are struggling with anorexia should seek help from a mental health professional as soon as possible.


The Center for Growth has therapy and counseling offices in multiple states. If you prefer to speak to a live therapist, call our intake department at 215 - 922 - 5683 x 100 or go to a therapist's biography page and call the therapist of your choice directly. Every eating disorder therapist has their phone number listed on their bio page.

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Anorexia often co-occurs with other mental health conditions, including:

  1. Depression: It is estimated that up to 50% of individuals with anorexia also experience depression.
  2. Anxiety disorders: Approximately 40-60% of individuals with anorexia also have an anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder.
  3. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): A significant number of individuals with anorexia also experience symptoms of OCD, such as intrusive thoughts about food and weight, and repetitive behaviors related to food and exercise.
  4. Substance abuse: Substance abuse, particularly with alcohol and drugs, is also more common among individuals with anorexia.
  5. Bipolar disorder: A smaller percentage of individuals with anorexia also have bipolar disorder.

It's important to note that the presence of co-occurring mental health conditions can complicate the treatment of anorexia and may require a multi-disciplinary approach. A mental health professional, such as a psychologist, social worker, marriage and family therapist, can help diagnose and treat the co-occurring conditions, and provide an individualized treatment plan that addresses all aspects of the individual's mental health.

Here are other types of mental health issues that can be impacting anorexia

  1. ADHD / ADD, Dyslexia, Autism, and Tourettes
  2. Anxiety, OCD, Panic
  3. Anger Problems
  4. Babyloss Therapy / Pregnancy Loss
  5. Depression & mood disorders
  6. Recent loss or death: Grief & Loss
  7. Personality Issues (Narcissism, Borderline...)
  8. Shame
  9. Sex and Love Compulsions / Dependence
  10. Sex Problems
  11. A history of emotional, physical or sexual Trauma
  12. Relationship Problems

Some signs that a person with anorexia may be in danger include:

  1. Rapid and significant weight loss
  2. Extreme restriction of food intake
  3. Abnormal heart rate and blood pressure
  4. Dizziness or fainting
  5. Infertility
  6. Dry skin and hair loss
  7. Intolerance to cold
  8. Irregular menstrual cycles
  9. Difficulty concentrating
  10. Depression or social isolation

It's important to seek medical attention if you suspect someone has an eating disorder and may be in danger.

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