Anxiety and eating disorders: Understanding the overlap

Sub-Department of Clinical Health Psychology, University College London, London, UK.
Clinical Psychology Review (Impact Factor: 7.18). 04/2008; 28(3):366-86. DOI: 10.1016/j.cpr.2007.07.001
Source: PubMed


This paper reviews research investigating the comorbidity between eating disorders and anxiety disorders. Whilst there is some inconsistency in the literature, it appears that women with eating disorders have higher rates of anxiety disorders than normal controls. Potential causal relationships between eating disorders and anxiety disorders are outlined, though their relative chronology appears to be somewhat inconsistent. Safety behaviours and cognitive avoidance strategies (i.e., cognitive narrowing and blocking) are suggested as potential mechanisms linking the disorders. A model outlining this hypothesised relationship is developed throughout the review. It is suggested that eating disorders and anxiety disorders might share common aetiological factors, and that these factors can increase an individual's susceptibility to either disorder. Potential implications for the treatment of eating disorders are outlined, and suggestions are made for further research.

Download full-text


Available from: Glenn Waller, Jan 09, 2014
  • Source
    • "In some cases of OCD, ritualised eating can lead to restrictive dietary intake, causing significant weight loss similar to that seen in eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa (AN) (Manassis & Kalman, 1990; Veale, Costa, Murphy & Ellison, 2011). Comorbidity rates between OCD and eating disorders are high (Pallister & Waller, 2008; Godart, Flament, Perdereau & Jeammet, 2002). Much of the research to date has examined the occurrence of OCD in eating disorder samples. "

    Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders 10/2015; · 1.18 Impact Factor
    • "Additionally, stigma is associated with anxiety because of frequently experienced social exclusion and isolation (Alonso et al., 2008). Concerning eating disorders, anxiety is often regarded as a " co-morbid condition with eating disorders " (Fox & Power, 2009, p. 241) because of a high co-occurrence between anxiety and eating disorders (Pallister & Waller, 2008; Waller, 2008). For individuals with anorexia, stigma and anxiety tend to go together because of an ingrained sense of ineffectiveness (Emmett, 1985), which is reflected in their language through self-loathing, anxiety, and self-deprecation (Wolf, Sedway, Bulik, & Kordy, 2007). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Pro-anorexic websites are a popular online venue for individuals with anorexia, but recent research suggests that they play a role of "online negative enabling support groups" because they can undermine recovery and encourage negative behaviors by validating pro-anorexic views. By analyzing 22,811 messages from 5,590 conversations from the Pro-Ana Nation online discussion board forum, this study examines communicative mechanisms of online negative enabling support through language analysis of disclosure-response sequences, changes in the language of the initial discloser within an interaction exchange, and the role of responses in eliciting those changes. The findings show that initiating disclosures containing stigma-related emotion words, anorexia-specific content, and sociorelational content are typically met with negatively valenced responses from other members of the pro-anorexic community. Moreover, although the act of revealing stigmatized information has some cathartic effects, disclosers use more, not fewer, stigma-related emotion words when they receive negatively valenced responses. These results provide insight into communicative dynamics and effects of online negative enabling support through validation of the pro-anorexic identity and the dangerous cycle of stigma escalation in disclosure-response exchanges on pro-anorexic online communities.
    Health Communication 08/2015; 31(2):1-13. DOI:10.1080/10410236.2014.946218 · 0.97 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "One component of negative affect that may have a particularly strong association with binge eating is anxiety (Binford et al., 2004; Mitchell et al., 1999; Mitchell and Mazzeo, 2004; Ostrovsky et al., 2013; Pallister and Waller, 2008). Anxiety symptoms are high among individuals with binge eating overall (Grucza et al., 2007; Mussell et al., 1996; Yanovski et al., 1993), but conversely, research demonstrates that the process of binge eating is associated with a reduction in anxiety (Fairburn et al., 1986), particularly among individuals with BED (Mitchell et al., 1999). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study aimed to extend the literature by examining several psychological factors (i.e. depression, anxiety, and stress) in relation to binge eating. Data were collected via online surveys from a community sample of men and women of diverse backgrounds. The main study hypotheses were supported, indicating a unique relation between anxiety and binge eating, and between stress and binge eating, independent of the impact of depression. Gender differences are discussed. The results of this study suggest a need for a more detailed examination of negative affect in binge eating. Furthermore, the role of anxiety may be important for future research. © The Author(s) 2015.
    Journal of Health Psychology 06/2015; 20(6):887-98. DOI:10.1177/1359105315580212 · 1.88 Impact Factor
Show more