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Can Depression Cause Eating Disorders

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How Do You Stop Depressive Overeating

How to correct the root cause of your depression/anxiety/eating disorder

Both depression and overeating can be treated, even when they occur together. The first line of treatment will be to seek therapy. Your therapist will be able to help you determine the causes of both the overeating and the depression, and create a plan for how you can manage both.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be helpful for both depression and overeating. According to the Sheppard Pratt Treatment Center, its the most evidence-based treatment for adults with eating disorders. During CBT, you and your therapist will search for what causes or triggers led to the depression and overeating, and try to find a solution for both immediate treatment and long-term management.

Your therapist may look for weight-control behaviors, such as:

  • dietary constraint, which can lead to binge eating
  • purging behaviors
  • body avoidance, in which you avoid looking at your body

The beginning of treatment will focus on getting overeating habits under control and finding methods to manage symptoms of depression.

The cognitive side of the therapy will focus on:

  • negative body image
  • issues with self-worth
  • perfectionism

Youll learn coping mechanisms to improve your body image, which can in turn improve depression and reduce overeating tendencies.

Your therapist or doctor may prescribe you depression medications, which can sometimes help both conditions at once.

Epileptogenic Effects Of Antidepressants

The complex neurotransmitter effects of antidepressant drugs make it impossible to offer simplistic assumptions about their proconvulsant effects. Recent experimental studies of AEDs used to treat depression lead to the conclusion that it is unlikely that alterations in serotonin and norepinephrine levels are related to an increased risk of seizures. In fact, some studies suggest that fluoxetine and doxepine may occasionally have anticonvulsant properties.

Understanding Food And Body Image Struggles

What does it mean to struggle with body image? According to the American Psychological Association, body image is defined as both the mental picture you form of your own body and the attitude you have towards its characteristics. Many of us internalize messages from a young age that can lead to either a positive or negative body image.

  • If you have a positive body image, you have a clear, realistic perception of your body. You see and accept your body as it truly is and youre aware that your physical appearance doesnt determine your value as a person.
  • Having a negative body image means youre likely to have a distorted perception of your body. You may have trouble accepting how your body looks and how much it affects your self-worth. If you struggle with body image, you may feel deep shame, anxiety, and self-consciousness related to your physical appearance.

For those who suffer from eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, emotions and sense of self-worth are directly, and disproportionately linked to weight, and therefore, food intake. National surveys estimate that in the US, 20 million women and 10 million men will develop an eating disorder at some point in their lives. And according to the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders are most common in teens or young adults specifically young women. But eating disorders can also affect people of all ages, backgrounds, body weights, and ethnicities.

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Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

In the last decades, SSRIs have been increasingly used to treat AN, but only two have been tested in RCTs, with mostly negative results. Fluoxetine conveyed no advantage over placebo for underweight AN in-patients , nor for AN outpatients treated with fluoxetine plus serotonin precursors . Kaye et al. randomly assigned restricting AN patients to fluoxetine or placebo after in-patient weight gain. In the following year, women receiving fluoxetine had a significantly lower rate of relapse than those treated with placebo. However, limitations of this study include its small size , and the lack of standardized psychological treatment during the medication trial. In a larger RCT including 93 weight-restored outpatients randomized to CBT plus fluoxetine or placebo, Walsh et al. found no difference in relapse rate after 1 yr. Fassino et al. conducted a RCT comparing citalopram to a waitlist condition in restricting AN patients. Weight gain was similar in both groups, but citalopram appeared to improve depression, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, impulsiveness and trait-anger.

SSRIs in children and adolescents

Signs Of Anorexia Nervosa

Ultimate Guide For Eating Disorders Willow Place For Women

People with anorexia nervosa have an extreme fear of gaining weight. They often diet and exercise relentlessly, sometimes to the point of starvation. About one-third to one-half of anorexics also binge and purge by vomiting or misusing laxatives. People with anorexia have a distorted body image, thinking they are overweight when in fact they are underweight. They may count calories obsessively and only allow themselves tiny portions of certain specific foods. When confronted, someone with anorexia will often deny that thereâs a problem.

The signs of anorexia can be subtle at first, because it develops gradually. It may begin as an interest in dieting before an event like a school dance or a beach vacation. But as the disorder takes hold, preoccupation with weight intensifies. It creates a vicious cycle: The more weight the person loses, the more that person worries and obsesses about weight.

The following symptoms and behaviors are common in people with anorexia:

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Stress Can Trigger And Seem To Cause Eating Disorders

Worrying about food and weight is central to all eating disorders, regardless of the type of eating disorder.

The clear message from social media, peers, and diet culture is that thinner is better and what you eat defines your worth as a human. Being a part of Diet Culture and adopting its belief system create stress .

So, in people with other risk factors, stress can easily lead to problematic coping. Coping by dieting is socially suggested, approved, and even sanctioned.

Staying on a calorically restricted diet is stressful, even when the diet is camouflaged as wellness, clean eating, or a lifestyle change.

Weight loss compliments and admiration from others is a source of stress, as well. In 95% of cases, weight loss will be replaced by weight gain. And no more compliments or admiration.

Dieting is one of the main risk factors for eating disorders.

Stated in another way, eating disorders begin with an innocent diet.

Stress is part of the perfect storm.

Depression And Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are some of the most dangerous mental health conditions. An untreated eating disorder can lead to severe malnutrition, decreased immunity, and can even cause organ damage and subsequent failure. People with eating disorders are also at increased risk of developing comorbid conditions, such as depression and substance use disorder. It is imperative that persons with suspected eating disorders are treated quickly before their physical and mental health deteriorates. Unfortunately, when comorbid conditions like depression and eating disorders occur in tandem, it can be challenging for clinicians to diagnose these conditions accurately, and create treatment plans that address the symptoms of both. But it is crucial that these comorbid conditions are treated simultaneously to lessen the severity of each.

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Evidence That Were Better Without The Drug

There is a surprising quantity of research suggesting that were better off without antidepressant drugs. It is worth reviewing the data:

The purpose of this article is to illuminate the fact that giving our kids antidepressant medication is not a given. Just because antidepressants are commonly prescribed, and are increasingly prescribed to children, does not mean that parents should assume they should do so without evaluating the evidence against giving kids antidepressants.

Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating disorders and body hate.

Shes the editor of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents handle their kids food and body issues.

Stress And Bulimia Nervosa

How I “Recovered” From My Eating Disorder & Depression

Bulimia nervosa is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder. Its characterized by cycles of bingeing and self-induced purging to undo the effects of bingeing.

Three in 100 American women suffer from bulimia.

Its common for people with bulimia nervosa to use food and purging to manage feelings theyd rather not feel including sadness, shame, anger, stress, and boredom.

The cycle goes like this:

The person with bulimia feels stressed, binges , and purges to alleviate the stress.

What then replaces the original stress is the stress of being secretive, of cleaning up the evidence of the binge or purge, and of shame.

Another form of stress caused by the eating disorder is the physical impact of bingeing and purging. The list of short-term and long-term physical effects of bulimia is extensive.

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Tips For Stopping Your Antidepressant Safely

Reduce your dose gradually. In order to minimize antidepressant withdrawal symptoms, never stop your medication cold turkey. Instead, gradually step down your dose , allowing for at least two to six weeks or longer between each dosage reduction.

Dont rush the process. The antidepressant tapering process may take from several months to years, and should only be attempted under a doctors supervision. Be patient. If at any time you experience difficulties, consider spending more time at your current dose before attempting any further reductions.

Choose a time to stop that isnt too stressful. Withdrawing from antidepressants can be difficult, so its best to start when youre not under a lot of stress. If youre currently going through any major life changes or significantly stressful circumstances, you may want to wait until youre in a more stable place.

Compassion For The Hopelessness

The reality of working with people who are suffering in the throws of depression and an eating disorder is that it is difficult not to feel hopeless for their hopelessness. Their hopelessness is extremely painful. It is an inner torture and misery, and it is encompassed by intense feelings of self-hatred and self contempt. For many, their emotional salvation was going to be the eating disorder. It was going to be thinness, physical beauty, or social acceptability. Many come to feel that they have even failed at the eating disorder and have lost the identity they had in the eating disorder. Hence, the hopelessness goes beyond hopeless, because not only is there nothing good in their lives, there is nothing good in them. Not only is there no hope for the future, there is nothing hopeful at the moment but breathing in and out the despair they feel. It feels to them like the suffering will last forever. Therapists who work with eating disorders need to be prepared for the flood of depression that pours out once the eating disorder symptoms and patterns have been stabilized or limited to some degree.

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Avoidant/restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder usually develops at a young age. However, it can continue into adulthood. Unlike anorexia or bulimia, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is equally common among both men and women. This disorder is characterized by highly restrictive eating habits that result in nutritional deficiencies.

People Who Develop Eating Disorders Are Often Prone To Stress

What it

The impact of stress on eating disorders is likely mediated by temperament .

Its also mediated by Diet Culture.

Social media has intensified Diet Cultures harmful impact. Even acknowledges the harmful effects of filtered selfies on body image.

For an eating disorder and depression to develop takes more than stress alone.

When other risk factors are in place and a stressful event occurs, an eating disorder can become activated. The eating disorder may not be triggered were it not for the stressful event.

The Why now? question of the timing of an eating disorder usually involves a triggering event.

Examples include the loss of a pet or other loved one, a divorce, an injury or other medical event, or teasing.

In other words, some form of stress.

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Some Of The Symptoms Are:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or an empty mood
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
  • Physical problems that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, or chronic pain
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that you used to enjoy
  • Appetite and/or weight loss, overeating and weight gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide suicide attempts
  • Irregular or absent menstrual cycles
  • Disrupted sleep patterns

Connecting Depression And Eating Disorders

Many people who are suffering from an eating disorder also struggle with co-occurring depression. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reports that up to 50% of people who seek treatment for anorexia nervosa also suffer from co-occurring depression, while more than 50% of people who seek treatment for bulimia nervosa or binge-eating disorder live with co-occurring depression.

The relationship between depression and eating disorders is complex because depression can cause a person to struggle with unhealthy eating patterns while eating disorders can lead to feelings of depression. For women who have developed an eating disorder that co-occurs with depression, these overlapping symptoms can lead to a destructive cycle of disordered eating and feelings of hopelessness that can make recovery that much harder.

Each person experiences the impact of these challenges differently. But recognizing the connection between eating disorders and co-occurring depression can make a significant difference in your health.

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Depression Creates More Stress

The effects of depression can create or intensify stress.

Being depressed is stressful for many reasons..

Depression disrupts life. Its associated with withdrawing from people, isolating, and not doing things you usually enjoy doing.

Depression and stress can lead to a vicious cycle

The relationship between depression and stress is bidirectional. Depression can cause stress, and stress can cause depression. Stress makes depression worse, and depression makes stress worse.

Evidence For Associations Of Depression And Anxiety Symptoms With Diagnostically Relevant Behaviors

Depression and Binge Eating Disorder

In line with previous research, we observed associations of depression and anxiety symptoms with actual disturbed eating behavior which comprised overeating, binge eating, and compensatory behaviors. In our study, depression symptoms were especially common among individuals who reported binge eating. This corresponds to the substantial overlap of depression and binge eating disorder which is characterized not only by eating large portions, but also by a loss of control . Congruently, negative affect, maladaptive cognitions, and inadequate coping strategies were related to its onset as well as to its maintenance . Depression symptoms were also related to worse treatment outcomes in overweight individuals who tried to lose weight .

Regarding the frequency of overeating episodes, a small association with anxiety was present alongside the association with depression symptoms. Previous research has found that overeating might provide relief or a feeling of calm . However, overeating improved participants’ mood only for short time periods .

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Evidence For The Association Of Depression And Anxiety Symptoms With Global Eating Disorder Psychopathology And Differences Between Men And Women

The present study expands previous research by showing that global eating psychopathology was associated with depression symptoms and anxiety symptoms in the German general population irrespective of participants’ bodyweight, age, and income. The associations of eating disorder psychopathology and behaviors with anxiety and depression symptoms are in line with previous reports about psychological comorbidities among those with eating disorders . In our study, anxiety was also more closely related to eating disorder symptoms and behaviors than depression. Whilst we found that depression symptoms statistically predicted eating disorder symptoms in men and women, this association was comparatively stronger among women.

The fact that the gender-specific regression model including anxiety and depression symptoms explained more variance in the female sample might indicate that the model lacked factors that are more relevant for men’s eating psychopathology. Previous research has suggested that those might be weight history and aspects of athletic achievement . Furthermore, the symptoms assessed by the EDE-Q8 comprise feelings of fatness and the desire to lose weight as opposed to, for example, muscularity-oriented diet and exercise and muscularity-oriented dissatisfaction. It thus omits concerns that were especially relevant for men with eating disorders .

Lisdexamfetamine : Good Results Seen For Bed

Lisdexamfetamine is a stimulant used in the treatment of ADHD. In February 2015, it also became the first medication approved to treat moderate-to-severe BED.

Experts believe it helps curb impulsive and compulsive behaviors typically associated with BED, such as reaching for food when depressed or continuing to eat even once you feel full. In trials, lisdexamfetamine was significantly more likely than placebo to reduce the number of binge eating episodes per week, to result in complete cessation of binge eating, or to cause weight-loss. The most common side effects reported were dry mouth, decreased appetite, sleeplessness, and headache, although overall discontinuation rates because of side effects were low.

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The Pharmacological Options In The Treatment Of Eating Disorders

A. Capasso

1Mental Health Unit, District 24, ASL Napoli 1 Centro, Molosiglio, Via Acton, 80145 Napoli, Italy

2Department of Pharmacy, University of Salerno, Via Ponte Don Melillo, 84084 Fisciano, Salerno, Italy


The eating disorders are complex systemic diseases with high social impact, which tend to become chronic with significant medical and psychiatric comorbidities. The literature data showed that there is good evidence to suggest the use of SSRIs, particularly at high doses of fluoxetine, in the treatment of BN reducing both the crisis of binge that the phenomena compensates and reducing the episodes of binge in patients with BED in the short term. Also, the topiramate showed a good effectiveness in reducing the frequency and magnitude of episodes of binge with body weight reduction, both in the BN that is in the therapy of BED. To date, modest data support the use of low doses of second-generation antipsychotics in an attempt to reduce the creation of polarized weight and body shapes, the obsessive component, and anxiety in patients with AN. Data in the literature on long-term drug treatment of eating disorders are still very modest. It is essential to remember that the pharmacotherapy has, however, a remarkable efficacy in treating psychiatric disorders that occur in comorbidity with eating disorders, such as mood disorders, anxiety, insomnia, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders and behavior.

1. Introduction

3. Antidepressants

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