Though the exact cause of bulimia is not known, a number of risk factors appear to influence its development.
- Studies have shown eating disorders occur more frequently in relatives of people with bulimia than in others. This frequency appears to be related to genetics, but family influences may also be important.
- Researchers have suggested that altered levels of the chemical serotonin in the brain play a role. Serotonin levels can be related to the development of clinical depression.
- Experts agree that cultural factors are very important in the development of eating disorders. Many societies' emphasis on health, in particular thinness, can greatly influence those who seek the acceptance of others to maintain a good body image.
- There seems to be increasing evidence that people who tend to ruminate, meaning focus repetitively on feeling distressed and the possible causes or consequences of these feelings without using active problem solving strategies, have a greater likelihood to develop bulimia or another eating disorder.
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