New Netflix Film,To the Bone, Raises Questions on the Psychology behind Eating Disorders

The swirling controversy over Netflix’s new movie, To the Bone, is bringing the topic of eating disorders to the front of the public’s mind. The film tells the story of Ellen, (played by Lily Collins) a girl who suffers with anorexia and her experiences in an outpatient facility.

The film searches for the reason behind her eating disorder and touches on an incident involving suicide as a result of an eating disorder.

To the Bone is receiving mixed feedback feedback, much like Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, which addresses suicide. Critics believe that To the Bone glamorizes eating disorders. It also includes potentially upsetting images of a girl’s emaciated frame, for which Netflix includes a warning in the beginning of the film.

Though anxiety and depression aren’t specifically named in the film, it is implied that several of the characters may suffer from these illnesses. It raises the question: What is the relationship between eating disorders and mental illnesses, such a depression and anxiety?

Eating Disorders in themselves are categorized as mental illness. 30 million people in the United States suffer from them and 90 percent are females.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a study conducted in 2004, showed that a whopping two-thirds of people with an eating disorder developed anxiety. 42 percent experienced an anxiety disorder prior to developing an eating disorder. Anxiety and depression can be both a cause and an effect of an eating disorder.

Those with eating disorders often have underlying psychological motivators, such as low self-esteem and recurring feelings of shame and guilt. These feelings, left unresolved for an extended time-period, can result in depression. Because eating disorders often are accompanied by depression and anxiety, it is important that people receive treatment for both throughout the healing process. In fact, according to, to adequately treat both conditions would require the help of a physician, therapist and nutritionist.

According to Nicholas Hundley, MS, CNS of MindWhale, anorexia and other eating disorders are part of a constellation of problems related to various forms of anxiety. Often, the anxiety comes about because of inflammation in the body, usually the gastrointestinal tract, that causes the body to go into “fight or flight” mode either constantly or simply far too easily. The resulting anxiety supports anorexia. For example, a large proportion of women diagnosed with eating disorders are also on the autistic spectrum, yet go undiagnosed and are not aware, as was the case with Louise Harrington.

At MindWhale, we are unique in that we help identify and develop healing plans for the hidden inflammation behind eating disorders, anxiety, and autism.

When the body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, the mind is also affected, as the two are interrelated. MindWhale is a mental health organization which uses diet and supplements as a way to improve brain health, which leads to increased mental wellness. Nutritionist Nicholas Hundley will work with you to create a plan towards healing. Take the Brain Health Quiz to assess your personal brain health today.

About Kaylee DeWitt

Leave a Comment