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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    • "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. "

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    • "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). "
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