Depression and Eating Disorders

It is common for individuals struggling with an eating disorder, like anorexia, binge-eating, or bulimia, to also suffer from depression. The good news is that the treatments for depression and eating disorders have a lot of overlap and both disorders can be treated at the same time.

Psychologists believe that one-third to one-half of all people with eating disorders also have symptoms of depression or anxiety. In fact, people who have eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, are more likely than to also have another type of mental disorder. If not depression or anxiety, the problem could be substance abuse or another type of disorder. Individuals with eating disorders and another mental health disorder, like depression or substance abuse, are considered dual diagnosis. They have at least one simultaneously co-occurring mental health problem, and can sometimes have four or more ongoing mental health problems.

The Connection Between Eating Disorders and Mood

Our mood affects how we eat and how much we eat. When are mood is negatively impacted, some people don’t eat enough, while others overeat to feel better. Similarly, some have insomnia while others oversleep. And for some, as their mood changes, they develop body issues, which puts them at even higher risk for an eating disorder.

If you have an eating disorder, it is crucial to watch out for the following depression symptoms. With depression you:

  • Feel persistently sad, anxious, or empty
  • Feel hopeless or pessimistic
  • Feel guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • Are irritable or restless
  • Are not interested in things you used to like
  • Feel tired and don’t have energy
  • Have trouble concentrating, remembering things, or making decisions
  • Have trouble sleeping or sleep too much
  • Have lost your appetite or are overeating
  • Have thought about suicide

Keep in mind that you don’t have to have all of these symptoms to be depressed; symptoms vary from person to person. People with eating disorders, because their food consumption is wildly off-base, deprive themselves nutrients that help normally elevate mood. The constant stress associated with obsessing over body-image or controlling food intake can also contribute to depression.

Depression and Eating Disorder Treatment

Treatment of depression and eating disorders can often overlap. Psychologists use dialectical behavior therapy in both the treatment of depression and eating disorders. Therapies like DBT provide useful skills in emotional regulation that can be applied to both conditions. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy (TMS) is another mental health treatment that is effective in treating both depression and eating disorders. The magnetic pulses used in TMS stimulate parts of the brain that are sub-active due to chronic depression or eating disorders.

If you’re seeking eating disorder treatment, you’ll probably be asked questions about whether you’re depressed. It’s important to report both conditions so that they can be treated in concert. You can improve your mood while recovering from an eating disorder. Our treatment team in Delray Beach are here to assist you – call us at 888-551-6281 if you’re struggling with depression or an eating disorder.

Dr. Raul J. Rodriguez

Dr. Raul Rodriguez


Existing patients, please text 561-409-7296 for follow-up appointment requests or if you have medication concerns please text 561-409-7296.