Unfortunately, it is quite common for people with eating disorders to have other problems, as well. Below is a list of some of those other problems, along with some information about them. Talk to a mental health care professional if you’re struggling with any of these issues as well as an eating disorder. Let your health care professionals know everything that you’re dealing with.
Numerous studies have shown a correlation between eating disorders and a history of abuse, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Some people with eating disorders have post-traumatic stress disorder, which is classified as an anxiety disorder resulting from severe trauma. In fact, it’s so common in people with eating disorders that those with eating disorders should always be assessed for possible PTSD or other trauma-related issues.
Some people with eating disorders, as well as some people with severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, injure themselves by cutting, biting, hitting, burning, or otherwise hurting themselves. There are many reasons people may self-injure; some do it because that way they can control the pain they feel, some do it because they often feel numb and want to feel something, some do it as a way to reduce tension, some do it out of anger at themselves, some do it for other reasons. People may develop eating disorders for some of the same reasons. In addition, starving oneself or making oneself vomit can be a form of self-injury.
Numerous studies have confirmed the link between eating disorders and addiction. Some people with eating disorders, especially those like bulimia and binge eating disorder, may be addicted to food. Not all people with those disorders are food addicts, though. In addition to food addictions, people with eating disorders often have addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, exercise, or other substances or behaviors. It’s believed that addictions often develop as a way to self-medicate, to relieve anxiety and emotional pain, and eating disorders often develop for similar reasons.
People often develop eating disorders in an attempt to manage anxiety. However, eating disorders can actually lead to increased anxiety, as well, as people become more withdrawn from family and friends, as they develop increasingly severe health problems, and as they become more and more focused on their weight and diet. People with eating disorders may suffer from a number of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
People with clinical depression may develop eating disorders and people with eating disorders may develop clinical depression. Sometimes it’s hard to determine which came first. People with eating disorders often struggle with poor self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, and other feelings similar to those of people dealing with depression. Significant changes in appetite and undesired weight loss or weight gain are also common in people with depression.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is another kind of anxiety disorder, characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. In people with eating disorders, it may manifest as obsessively counting calories, obsessing about the nutritional value of foods, compulsive eating, or compulsive exercise. People with eating disorders may have other obsessions and compulsions as well, though, unrelated to food or weight.