Mental illnesses are complex. Sometimes, they occur alone, whereas at other times, they come along with other psychological disorders. When we talk about eating disorders, they are one of the most dangerous psychological disorders as they have high mortality rates. What’s more, they do not occur alone. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are common mental illnesses that occur with eating disorders.
There are a lot of reasons behind the prevalence of this disorder in our society. From social media to the internet, and television – all of them play a role in developing an ideal body type in the minds of people, which causes distortion in their body image. These individuals then get involved in abnormal behaviors in order to meet those body ideals.
A number of studies show that people who are at high risk of developing eating disorders are those with an abusive background, dysfunctional family history, perfectionist traits, high familial expectations, depression, and low body image.
There are four different types of eating disorders. These include:
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Binge Eating Disorders
- Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder or OSFED
The last category is for someone who has some of the symptoms of all three types.
Eating disorders are already complex, and the addition of depression makes them even more dense. Both of these mental illnesses are interrelated, which means that eating disorders can cause depression, and depression can lead to eating disorders. There is also a chance that the development of both of these illnesses can take place simultaneously.
Connection between Eating Disorders and Depression
Individuals suffering from eating disorders are also likely to have obsessive and compulsive traits, depression, and anxiety. A number of times, depressed people further indulge in binge-eating behaviors in order to feel good, temporarily. This temporary behavior will lead to a full-blown disorder when the desired level of satisfaction is not achieved.
Moreover, depression causes self-criticism, especially when it is attributed towards the self. They will find problems with their body and the way they look, and will feel worthless and guilty for not doing anything about it. This will hinder their judgment and decision making ability, and thus they will adapt behaviors that have the potential to cause eating disorders, in order to feel better about themselves.
Biologically, there are chemical messengers called neurotransmitters in the central nervous system that control the production of hormones. The norepinephrine and neurotransmitters serotonin in depressed individuals work unusually. Moreover, high levels of cortisol, which are stress hormones, is present in the brain of anorexic and depressed individuals. This is mostly because of some problem in or around the hypothalamus of the brain.
The intake of the right amount of nutritional food will not only treat anorexia nervosa, but it will also reduce depression. Initially, consuming food can be anxiety provoking but the end result will be positive.