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.

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Available from: Glenn Waller, Jan 09, 2014
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    • "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). "
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    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; DOI:10.1080/10410236.2014.946218 · 0.97 Impact Factor
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    • "Previous research has highlighted that environmental stresses contribute to the development of eating disorders. Godart et al. (2003); Pallister & Waller (2008) and Polivy & Herman (2002) conclude that eating-disordered women manifest higher rates of anxiety disorders. While some researchers argue that anxiety occurs in succession to eating disorders (See Pallister & Waller (2008) for review), others contend (See Swinbourne & Touyz (2007) for review) that increased levels of anxiety may contribute to the development of eating disorders in some women. "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper extends a previous qualitative research on female yo-yo dieters/weight cyclers in the UK. Out of nine participants in the previous study, this investigation has made use of feminist perspectives to further analyze the data of four participants that was previously derived via thematic analysis. Feminist analysis revealed that initiation of frequent dieting episodes is not merely to lose weight; rather complex control and identity issues as well as negative emotions play a role in triggering yo-yo dieting in some women. Furthermore, the similarity of these manifestations to eating disorders is discussed.
    Journal of International Women's Studies 01/2015; Qazi, Huda Iqbal Ahmed (2015). Facts behind the Façade: Is There More to Dieting Than Meets the Eye?. Journal of International(2).
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    • "This may produce a heightened susceptibility to experiencing symptoms of mental health problems (e.g., anxiety and depression) in the children of controlling parents. The associations between symptoms of anxiety, depression and disordered eating behaviours have been well-documented, as clinically the symptomology of these disorders often co-occur in both adults (e.g., Mischoulon et al., 2011; Pallister & Waller, 2008; Swinbourne & Touyz, 2007) and adolescents/children (e.g., Stice, Burton, & Shaw, 2004; Touchette et al., 2011). Given the discussed relationships between controlling parental feeding practices and children's over-and undereating behaviours, and the relationships between controlling parenting and children's anxiety and depression symptomology, it is plausible that anxiety and depression may mediate the relationship between parental controlling feeding practices and children's eating behaviours. "
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    ABSTRACT: Previous research suggests that parental controlling feeding practices are associated with children's over-eating and under-eating behaviours. However, there is limited research addressing the link between children's mental health symptoms (specifically anxiety and depression) and their reports of eating behaviours, despite knowledge that these psychopathologies often co-exist. The current study aimed to identify the relationships between preadolescents' perceptions of their parents' feeding practices with reports of their own anxiety, depression and eating behaviours. Three hundred and fifty six children (mean age 8.75 years) completed questionnaires measuring their dietary restraint, emotional eating and external eating, as well as their perceptions of their parents' use of pressure to eat and restriction of food. Children also completed measures of general anxiety, social anxiety and depression symptomology. Results indicated that preadolescents' eating behaviours were associated with their perceptions of the controlling feeding practices their parents used with them. Preadolescents' dietary restraint, emotional eating and external eating behaviours were positively associated with their reports of general and social anxiety, and depression symptomology. In addition, perceptions of parental pressure to eat were positively related to preadolescents' anxiety and depression levels. Child anxiety (general and social) was found to mediate the relationship between perceptions of parental pressure to eat and preadolescents' eating behaviours (dietary restraint, emotional eating and external eating). The results suggest that greater anxiety in preadolescents may explain why children who perceive greater pressure to eat by their parents are more likely to exhibit maladaptive eating behaviours.
    Appetite 05/2014; 80. DOI:10.1016/j.appet.2014.05.002 · 2.69 Impact Factor
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