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Eating Disorders: Personality Traits That Put You at Risk - Topic Overview

Some personality traits put a person at greater risk of developing an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating. These traits include:1

  • Low self-esteem.
  • Difficulty communicating negative emotions, such as anger, sadness, or fear.
  • Difficulty dealing with conflict.
  • A need to please others.
  • Perfectionism or always striving to be the best at whatever he or she does.
  • A need to be in control.
  • A need for attention.
  • Troubled relationship with parents (although it may seem that the relationship is close).
  • Problems separating from or being independent of the family.
  • High expectations from family.
  • Fear or ambivalence about growing up or developing sexually—including changes to the body during puberty.
  • Struggles with demands to be more independent and self-sufficient.
  • Problems with identity—not certain of who he or she is or where he or she is going in life.

However irrational, an eating disorder brings a sense of identity, achievement, and power to certain people who have these personality traits.

Recommended Related to Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders: Not Just a Teen Problem

You might think of anorexia and bulimia as adolescent disorders, but it's a problem plaguing adults, too. Anorexia, in which people have an intense fear of gaining weight and drastically restrict their food intake, cuts across ethnic and socioeconomic boundaries. But it strikes mostly women: About 90% of those with the condition are female, and about 20% of women still struggle with it into their 30s and beyond. While there's no hard data on how many adult women have symptoms of anorexia,...

Read the Eating Disorders: Not Just a Teen Problem article > >

A small number of people who have eating disorders also have been sexually or physically abused. They seek to control their environment by controlling their food intake.

People who have eating disorders may also:

  • Have problems with moods, particularly depression.
  • Act more childish than other children or teens who are the same age.
  • Have difficulty getting along with other people, because of either irritability or an inability to interact socially.
  • Have rituals or require that things be done in a particular order every time (obsessive-compulsive traits).
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 25, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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