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Eating Disorder Co-Occurring Diagnoses

Diagnoses Commonly Seen With Eating Disorders

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Updated November 28, 2012

The majority of people who struggle with an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder also struggle with at least one other mental illness. These are known as co-occurring or comorbid diagnoses. Some of those are listed here. Although having multiple diagnoses can complicate treatment, effective therapies and medications are available.

If you are concerned that you (or a loved one) is suffering from any of these issues, please talk with your treatment team so that your treatment plan and goals can include the treatment of the additional symptoms.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a diagnosis characterized by extreme instability in emotions and relationships. Amongst people with eating disorders, it is most commonly experienced by people who have bulimia. Fortunately, there are effective treatments for BPD.

Depression

One of the most common problems experienced by people with eating disorders is depression. Depression is more than typical sadness. While some of the symptoms of depression are sadness or a feeling of emptiness, these feelings occur even when things seem to be going well and are not limited to a particular situation. Symptoms of depression can also be caused by not getting enough to eat or other medical problems, making it even more likely that people with eating disorders will also suffer from depression.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives and, by definition, people with eating disorders experience anxiety specific to food, calories, weight gain and body image. However, some people experience anxiety regarding many areas of their lives, to the point that the anxiety gets in the way of relationships or other areas of a person’s life. Many eating disorder sufferers with generalized anxiety disorder report feelings of anxiety occurring before the onset of their eating disorder and often do not remember a time in their lives that they did not feel anxious.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a term used to describe a set of symptoms commonly occurring after a person has experienced a traumatic event. Many people estimate that over half of eating disorder sufferers have experienced some type of abuse and/or traumatic event, making this population at a high risk for developing PTSD as well.

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