Zeitschrift für Depression und Angst

Zeitschrift für Depression und Angst
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ISSN: 2167-1044


Are Eating Disorders a Type of Anxiety Disorder?

Fragiskos Gonidakis

One common feature that is observed in most of the patients that suffer from an eating disorder (ED) regardless of the exact diagnosis is excessive anxiety. Considering the comorbidity between ED and anxiety disorders most of the research have shown that ED patients have higher rates of anxiety disorders than normal controls. It is interesting that more than two thirds of the patient report that the onset of the anxiety disorder to precede the onset of the ED. Food restriction can reduce anxiety by creating a feeling of achievement and self-control. Also it distracts the individual from other perfectionistic goals that are more difficult to achieve. On the other hand, binge eating can be used as a way of reducing unpleasant emotions and especially anxiety. It is probable that ED and anxiety disorders share common etiological factors, and that these factors can increase an individual’s susceptibility to either disorder. Furthermore, food restriction and binge eating seem to have some kind of “anxiolytic” biological and psychological effect and thus can be regarded as a reinforced self-healing behavior for patients that have been suffering from severe anxiety prior to the onset of ED.