Mental Health 6People can find themselves living in dependence or addictior for many reasons.  Women in particular may over-consume food, for example, to compensate for areas in their life where they feel a loss of control. New research shows that certain environmental factors may put young women at higher risk of abuse.

An article outlined by Good Therapy online details a study conducted by Anna M. Bardone-Cone of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Associate Professor of Psychology sought to determine what risk factors may contribute to female college students using alcohol and food in an unhealthy way.

Bardone-Cone asserts that college-aged women are under a lot of stress to attain an ideal that often does not exist. Pressure to succeed academically, be popular, pretty, fit, accepted, and loved all weigh heavily on the minds of young women. To test how this pursuit of excellence impacted women’s decisions to over consume, Bardone-Cone took a closer look at the lives of over 400 campus females. She examined how issues such as body image, pressure to get good grades, and interpersonal relationships affected the drive for perfection and urge to binge when these women didn’t feel good about themselves.

The results of the study uncovered that college females shown to have high academic stress and a drive for social perfection were more likely to eat for emotional reasons. Instead of satisfying hunger, food became a source of comfort and way for these women to avoid confronting their deeper issues of feeling inadequate. Results also showed a connection between body image, pressure to succeed academically, and interpersonal relationships on using alcohol as a coping mechanism.

While the negative impacts of such stressors may seem minimal at first, if allowed to persist, they can increase the risk of  serious  diseases like bulimia or alcoholism. Family Guidance Center has a team of mental health professionals who can help you understand and manage mental health symptoms related to chronic stress, such as anxiety disorders or depression.

Alcohol addiction is a disease, like many other diseases, and professional help is needed to identify triggers and help individuals manage symptoms for recovery and quality of life. Assessments are available daily on a walk-in basis at Family Guidance Center, and can be the first step for a return to quality of life.