Young girl in trouble feeling sad and depressed

What’s The Connection Between Eating Disorders and Depression?

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, which can cause an eating disorder. While there is no one exact cause of eating disorders, we do know that depression is 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 lead to 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.

Is Not Eating A Sign of Depression?

Depression can cause high levels of anxiety and stress, which can lead to changes in eating habits including a loss of interest in food. If you’re not interested in food and eating less while experiencing other symptoms of depression, it may be time to seek treatment.

Can Overeating Be A Sign of Depression?

On the other end of the spectrum, depression can also lead to overeating or depression eating. Overeating due to depression can be caused by the desire to temporarily improve your mood. Indulging in comfort foods like your favorite meal or treat may make you feel better in the short term, but if you’re depressed, it won’t help in the long-term. If you’re overeating due to depression, it may be time to seek treatment.

What’s the Connection Between Depression and Eating Disorders?

If you’re wondering, “can depression cause an eating disorder,” although they’re two different mental illnesses, one can easily trigger the other. One reason being the intense affect eating disorders have 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 can lead to depression. These are called eating disorder mood swings. Additionally, negative body image and low self-esteem can stir feelings of anxiety and depression, which can also lead to eating disorder mood swings. Ultimately, these feelings can cause individuals to become more isolated which can worsen the depression.

Toledo Center Offers Hope

Doctors will often use a series of questions to determine the symptoms in diagnosing depression and eating disorders. However, to effectively treat depression and eating disorders, an integrative approach that addresses both issues at the same time is necessary.

At Toledo Center, we treat both depression and eating disorders. To effectively provide anorexia treatment, bulimia treatment, and depression treatment, our team of professionals uses evidence-based therapies that incorporate mindfulness, positive psychology, nutritional therapy, and psychotherapy. We help clients identify and address the underlying issues contributing to their disorders. We also work with clients to help them develop a healthy relationship with food. And our program involves proper nutrition to help the body to heal so the chemical imbalance in the brain can positively shift the mood.

If you need help with depression and eating disorders, call us at 419-885-8800 or complete our contact form.

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