In many cases there is a link between psychiatric illnesses and eating disorders. Knowledge of this connection can be helpful in treating and overcoming an eating disorder. Some of the illnesses which are related to eating disorders are discussed below.
Depression has the strongest link with eating disorders. In some
cases, the depression clears after the eating disorder is treated
and weight and nutritional status is normalized. Fluoxetine is often
used for bulimics. Former anorexics are at a higher risk for
suicide, long after their eating disorder has been overcome.
Borderline personality disorders have an association with bulimia.
This is characterized by widespread personal and life problems.
Poor impulse control, rapid shifts in functioning, demonizing or
idolizing others, and excessive complaining, including many
physical complaints are symptoms. These patients are difficult to
treat and require a mental health professional with expertise in this
Anxiety disorders are also prominent among eating disorder
patients. These may include generalized anxiety disorders, panic
attacks, agoraphobia, social phobia. Women who had exercise
compulsions as part of their illness may become extremely anxious
when prevented from exercising and instead weigh themselves
multiple times per day.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
The strongest association is between anorexia and
obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). More often than full-blown
OCD are obsessive compulsive symptoms such as perfectionism,
rituals, and obsessive thoughts. It is theorized that disordered
serotonin regulation is behind both anorexia and OCD, and that
the strictly controlled anorexic eating patterns are just one more
compulsion. The popular serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SRIs),
such as Prozac may be useful. They are usually used for treating
OCD and depression, but some clinicians tout their effectiveness
in preventing anorexic relapses. With anorexics, the SRI side
effects of hyperactivity and increased heart rate may hold greater
dangers, and thus these patients should be watched more