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What’s the connection between eating disorders and depression?

Young girl in trouble feeling sad and depressed

Many of us see flaws in our bodies that we wish we could change, and in many cases, we take steps to improve how we look. However, sometimes these good intentions lead to extreme measures, causing a potential eating disorder. While there is no one exact cause of an eating disorder, we do know that depression can be a risk factor. Research shows that 32-39% of people with anorexia nervosa, 36-50% of people with bulimia nervosa, and 33% of people with binge eating disorder are also diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

What is Depression?

Depression, a mood disorder, is the most common disorder to co-occur with an eating disorder. Common symptoms of depression may include:

  • Feelings of helplessness, guilt, or worthlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of intense sadness
  • Overeating or under-eating
  • Irritability or anger
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating

The symptoms of depression can cause serious issues in social and occupational functioning. Additionally, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the risk of suicide is higher for those who have anorexia and depression.

What’s the connection between depression and eating disorders?

Although eating disorders and depression are two different mental illnesses, one can easily trigger the other for many reasons. One reason being the intense affect eating disorders play on mood. For those suffering from anorexia, the undernourishment in the body cause changes in the brain, often causing a negative shift in mood which leads to depression.

Additionally, negative body image and low self-esteem can stir feelings of anxiety and depression. Ultimately, these feelings lead individuals to become more isolated which increases the depression.

Toledo Center Offers Hope

Doctors will often use a series of questions to determine the symptoms in diagnosing a co-occurring condition. However, to effectively treat dual diagnosis, such as depression and an eating disorder, requires an integrative approach that addresses both issues at the same time. By only addressing one disorder does not guarantee the other will disappear or become manageable. At Toledo Center, we treat both the acute and prolonged symptoms of depression that co-occur with an eating disorder. Our team of professionals uses evidence-based treatment that incorporates mindfulness, positive psychology, nutritional therapy, and psychotherapy that helps clients identify and address the underlying issues contributing to their depression. We work with clients to help them develop a healthy relationship with food. Substantial nutrients help the body to heal and the chemical imbalance in the brain begins to shift the mood positively.

Get the help you need today.

Do you need help with an eating disorder? Do you suffer from depression? Toledo Center understands that adults and adolescents can suffer from dual diagnosis and a specialized treatment plan is needed for recovery.  We can help you challenge the cognitive distortions that have prevented you from seeing your true value.  Our clinical team helps clients learn new coping skills that are needed for a sustainable recovery. For more information call us today or complete our contact form.

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