Studies show that depression has the ability to result in eating disorders, although there’s no evidence to show that depression may be caused by eating disorders. However, depression in individuals who have eating disorders often has very unique features. Individuals who develop eating disorders may feel like they aren’t good enough. It’s common for them to become obsessed with being perfect, and underneath these feelings is anxiety and depression. In many cases, these patients have gone through significant emotional trauma.To decide if patients with eating disorders may have underlying problems with depression, physicians look for specific symptoms.

Common depression symptoms

Some of the common symptoms of depression that may be prevalent in individuals with eating disorders include:

  • Anger or irritability
  • Feelings of unhappiness or sadness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Losing interest in activities that the individual once enjoyed or found pleasurable
  • Problems sleeping
  • Lack of libido

Treatment options

Several treatment methods can be utilized to treat patients with eating disorders and depression.

  • Antidepressant medications often prove helpful by treating the underlying depression. In patients with eating disorders, such as anorexia, adding antidepressants to their treatment regimen was shown to reduce their risk of relapsing.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy has also been helpful with treating patients with eating disorders and underlying depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be used alone or with antidepressants, and it teaches patients to change the way they think about eating and food, helping them learn to engage in healthy eating behaviors. This type of therapy has been shown to significantly reduce many of the symptoms that come with eating disorders. Using cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective at treating patients with depression combined with binge eating and anorexia nervosa.

Treatment tailored to specific needs

It’s essential that treatments for patients with depression and eating disorders to be tailored to the patient’s specific needs. Some patients may do well with antidepressants, while others may also need counseling to help them change the way they think about food and eating. While there’s no magic bullet that will instantly cure eating disorders combined with depression, there’s much that can be done to treat the underlying depression.

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Latest update: June 19, 2016
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