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Eating Disorders and Depression

People who suffer from eating disorders often simultaneously experience other mental health problems, such as addiction to alcohol or drugs, or self-harming behaviours. When this happens it is known as dual diagnosis.

Eating Disorders and Depression

Why Are People Suffering From an Eating Disorder More Likely to Experience Depression?

People suffering from eating disorders are prone to developing depression because of the many negative emotions they experience as part of their illness. These feelings can include those of isolation, shame and hopelessness. Those with eating disorders may also turn to alcohol and drugs as a coping strategy to manage their symptoms.

The physiological changes that occur as a result of eating disorders can have a mood altering effect that contributes to depression. Conversely, the individual may have suffered from depression before they developed an eating disorder.

What Treatment Can Help for Depression and Eating Disorders?

A dual diagnosis of depression and an eating disorder is generally treated with psychosocial therapies as well as a medical intervention. Patients may engage with talking therapies, art therapy, and family and individual therapies, in addition to being prescribed anti-anxiety and antidepressant medication. Recovery can also be aided by support from family and friends.

Self-harm and anorexia

Are People With Anorexia More Likely to Self-Harm?

People suffering from anorexia often experience overwhelming emotional pain that can lead them to engage in self-harming behaviour as an unhealthy coping mechanism. This behaviour may give them temporary relief from intensely negative feelings. However, this is not true of all people suffering from an eating disorder.

The Emotional Consequences of Eating Disorders

In What Ways Can an Eating Disorder Affect an Individual?

Eating disorders can cause the sufferer to experience intense emotional and psychological distress. They can also have devastating and potentially irreversible effects on the patient’s physical health.

How are Loved Ones Affected by an Individual’s Anorexia?

Family members of an individual with anorexia often suffer a great deal. They may find it difficult to understand the disorder and struggle to see why their loved one is choosing to harm themselves in this way. Local GPs and mental health workers will be able to direct sufferers and their family members to the appropriate healthcare services and support.  

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Last updated & clinically assessed 26 February, 2020