Co-Occurring disorders, (or comorbid disorders), is a term used when other psychiatric conditions, or substance abuse, co-exist with an eating disorder. One example would be an individual suffering from anorexia as well as issues of anxiety and depression. Treatment of comorbid, dual diagnosis cases is challenging.
It's not unusual for someone with anorexia or bulimia to have other mental health issues as well. In fact, it's almost the norm. These conditions can severely impact one's ability to function, and in some cases there is even a risk of death.
Every eating disorder and psychiatric disorder has its own symptoms and its own triggers. In the case of co-occurring disorders, these can all overlap and become quite a tangled web.
Something that's a symptom of one illness, might be a trigger for the other. What does that mean, you ask?
Let's say you know somebody who's showing signs of clinical depression. Well, depression can be a trigger for anorexia and other eating disorders. On the other hand, one of the main anorexia symptoms is..... depression.
Another common complication of eating disorders like anorexia is the combination of diet and depression. As the sayings go, "You are what you eat"... "Garbage in, garbage out".
Depression can also be a symptom of someone who is a chronic, long-time user of alcohol, marijuana or other dangerous drugs. In fact, substance abuse and eating disorders are quite common as comoribid health issues.
An additional complication is that most conventional anxiety treatments, and treatments for depression, almost always include the use of drugs.
It's often difficult, if not impossible, to determine which came first - the addiction, the eating disorder, or the mental health concern. But in the end, it's most important to focus on a get-well plan.
Some co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety and eating disorders, almost seem to go hand in hand.
People with anorexia tend to experience symptoms of anxiety disorder due to extremely high levels of anxiousness towards just about everything - food, social interaction, and body image - just to name a few.
Obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms are also very common.
Most reputable eating disorder treatment centers in the United States are able to offer obsessive compulsive disorder treatment at the same time as treating anorexia (or another eating disorder).
With regards to sexual abuse and eating disorders, there is definite interaction and overlap of symptoms. PTSD symptoms (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) include depression, and this alone could set an eating disorder in motion.
It's important to note that if someone has been diagnosed with one of these health problems, it doesn't necessarily mean that he/she is predisposed to another. They're all separate illnesses that "just happen" to be co-occurring disorders and coexist in certain individuals.
Read more about anxiety attack symptoms, which represents another example of dual diagnosis.
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