Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Eating Disorder Hope
Eating disorders develop as the result of multiple factors, including genetic predisposition, neurobiology, and environmental and social elements. For some individuals who are predisposed to having an eating disorder, bullying can be a trigger that influences the expression of this mental illness.
Bullying can be defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance1. Bullying behavior can involve verbal or physical attacks or any other destructive actions that are repeated or have the potential to be repeated over time.
This may involve:
- Physical aggression
- Social exclusion
- The spreading of vicious rumors
Individuals today may suffer with bullying at school, home, virtually, or through extracurricular activities.
How Bullying Can Be Triggering
While bullying itself cannot cause eating disorders, susceptible individuals may be triggered by such events, especially when bullying involves weight or body image. Bullying can be a traumatic event for any individual, and when the pain is internalized, this can lead to more damaging consequences.
If bullying and a subsequent eating disorder have affected you or a loved one, it is important to seek out the professional help you need to recover and heal. While bullying events from your past may haunt you, you can find freedom from this pain and hurt. Eating disorders are destructive mental health illnesses that can only cause further damage to your life, and it is possible to heal both your body and your mind.
The Treatment of the Individual for Trauma and an Eating Disorder
Professionals who specialize in the treatment of eating disorders can help guide an individual who has been traumatized by bullying through the healing process. A variety of therapeutic techniques can be integrated in treatment, including:
- Cognitive/dialectical behavioral therapy
- Exposure therapy
- Psychodynamic therapy
Other effective techniques may include art therapy, yoga or movement therapy, or equine therapy. Having a treatment team and professionals to support you can give you the tools and resources you need to overcome bullying and an eating disorder.
If you are interested in finding a treatment specialist or center, consider utilizing the resources available on the Eating Disorder Hope website. Our directories of qualified specialists can be a helpful resource to connect you to the treatment you need and deserve.
1. “What is Bullying”, www.stopbulling.gov Accessed 04 April 2015
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published on April 18th, 2015.
Reviewed, Updated & Approved on February 27, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com