Misery loves company. We’ve all heard this particular idiom in some incarnation. The truth of the old saying holds when we look at how often depression accompanies the misery of an eating disorder or vice versa. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Inc. (ANAD), fully half of those suffering from eating disorders also suffer from mood disorders, such as depression and/or anxiety disorders.
A symbiotic relationship is one of mutual dependence. Depression and an eating disorder fall under this characterization because these conditions depend on each other for continued dominance over a victim’s moods and behaviors.
Simply put, depression can result from an eating disorder, such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating. Likewise, anorexia, bulimia or binge eating may be a manifestation of depression. Ironically, the two conditions – depression and an eating disorder – essentially feed off of one another.
What Is the Preferred Treatment?
There is no one specific recovery modality that’s proven itself as the definitive treatment for depression and eating disorders. The effective method of treatment is different for every person. However, different types of health professionals offering a range of treatments can help people in their individual quests for recovery.
There are also things that people can do to help themselves recover and maintain a healthy lifestyle. These actions can include such tactics as physical exercise for mild anxiety and depression, to psychological treatment and medical intervention for more severe conditions.
To treat someone with an eating disorder and a symbiotic depression or anxiety disorder involves a coordinated approach of multiple health care professionals. Victims will need monitoring and treatment for physical symptoms of anxiety, depression and the eating disorder itself.
A holistic approach will support the victims psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, environmentally and socially. This may include such measures as medication, support groups and/or individual psychotherapy, as well as other alternative therapies.
The Sum of All Our Parts
Due to the symbiotic relationship between eating disorders and depression, it is imperative that treatment addresses the multifaceted points of our lives that shape who we are. Studies show that a person rarely struggles with only one condition. A person battling an eating disorder may not exhibit specific symptoms of depression but is likely to suffer from some degree of anxiety or other physical/emotional affliction.
By taking a whole person approach to healing, we can use the different components of who we are to deal with the issues we face, thus opening the door to a full recovery.