A negative feeling is often linked to an eating disorder, and depression is no exception. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 9 percent of Americans suffer from depression. One of the reasons for depression is distress, triggered by eating disorders. According to experts, people suffering from eating disorders are more likely to suffer from depression than those with healthy eating habits.
The desire to lose weight and control eating patterns is healthy. But when a person gets obsessed with food and weight issues, it can lead to fatal medical complications as a result of erratic eating behaviors and habits. According to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) studies, approximately one in 20 people is affected by an eating disorder at one point in time. As eating disorders involve thoughts about only food and weight, they can result in serious emotional and physical complications, leading to the onset of depression.
As per Mental Health America, there are two types of eating disorders: Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.
- Anorexia Nervosa: People suffering from this disorder are always under an unrealistic perception of body weight. The fear of gaining weight creates an innate obsession in them to starve. Thus, they limit their quantity of food, believing that they are overweight despite being underweight.
- Bulimia Nervosa: This disorder is characterized by excessive binge eating where people attempt to control weight by vomiting or consuming laxatives. Such people are unhappy about their weight and size and their serious eating disorder habits are followed by purging in secret. These unhealthy habits may cause severe dehydration along with serious heart ailments due to electrolyte imbalance.
What strikes first – depression or eating disorder?
The symptoms of eating disorders can develop during childhood or later adulthood. While clinical psychologists are not sure what strikes first, depression or an eating disorder, a report published by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reveals that two-thirds of people with eating disorders suffer from an anxiety disorder. Some researchers believe that depression is often a reason for eating disorders.
Joslyn Smith, Senior legislative assistant for public interest policy, American Psychological Association, said, “Eating disorders are debilitating and can be fatal.”
A 2003 study of the Archives of General Psychiatry (Vol. 60, No. 2) revealed that those suffering from anorexia are 56 times more likely to commit suicide than their healthy peers.
The American Journal of Psychiatry reported that those suffering from eating disorders also suffer from depression about half the time. Furthering the relation between eating disorders and depression, according to a report by Academy for Eating Disorders, only 50 percent of those with anorexia and bulimia recover fully, and even among those who have recovered from anorexia many continue to maintain low body weight and experience depression.
If not treated, eating disorders can have devastating consequences on productivity and relationships. Seeking professional help is necessary before it escalates into a full-blown threat.