Anxiety Disorders and its Overlap with Eating Disorders


While the relationship between anxiety and eating disorders may seem minimal at first, there is certainly more than what meets the eye. In fact, the link between the two is quite profound. For example, it is more than common for individuals with eating disorders to also have anxiety or anxiety-related disorders (i.e. social anxiety disorders, panic disorder, agoraphobia, etc.) (“Eating Disorders”). This relationship is perhaps due to commonalities in how both diseases come to origin and develop (“Eating Disorders”).

Both anxiety and eating disorders result in feelings of irrational, undue fear (“Eating Disorders”). The fear resulting from anxiety can be due to a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, social situations―as in social anxiety disorders, specific objects and situations―as in phobias, etc. (“Eating Disorders”). Eating disorders which may seem irrelevant at first, also results in individuals feeling fear (“Eating Disorders”). In this case, the fear revolves around gaining weight (“Eating Disorders”). Furthermore, while this post mainly deals with the correlation between anxiety disorders and eating disorders, it is also common for other psychological illnesses to be present simultaneously in individuals with eating disorders. Depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and substance abuse are also fairly common among those with eating disorders (“Eating Disorders”).

Fortunately, both anxiety and eating disorders are both very treatable, and it is possible for one to become free from both disorders. Like mentioned earlier, there are several issues that are common between both forms of mental illnesses. Because of this, both can be treated at the same time and perhaps in the same manner (“Eating Disorders”). However, it is important to note that recovery from one doesn’t necessarily mean that one will be cured from the other (“Eating Disorders”). Therefore, it is important to seek out help for both and let a professional develop a proper course for treatment.

As rendered in the past, the stigma of eating disorders is a consequence of the general public’s misinformation, misconceptions and perhaps even, knowledge (or lack thereof) of eating disorders―e.g. its roots, the toll it takes on those facing the disorders, and even, the seriousness of anorexia, bulimia, etc. However, what hasn’t been delved deeper into, at least on this website, are the stigmas associated with anxiety disorders. Certainly, it is an issue that only those with anxiety can fully understand. However, the stigma again originates from misinformation.

There are many similarities between the stigmas of eating disorders and anxiety disorders. The following are some of the misconceptions of anxiety accumulated by the Australian Natural University College of Medicine (chart found at: http://nimhr.anu.edu.au/mental-health-measures/generalised-anxiety-stigma-scale-gass) (Griffiths). It can be clearly seen that the perceived notions of anxiety disorders actually overlap fairly with that of eating disorders. It’s important to note that all of these notions are incorrect and are harmful to those facing anxiety (and likewise, eating disorders). For example, the first bulleted stigma states that “anxiety disorders are not a real medical illness” (Griffiths). However, this couldn’t be further from the truth in that anxiety disorders are real medical issues and must be treated as such. The same goes for eating disorders. The best way to recovery is seeking out help from medical personnel much like for any other health issues. The second stigma states “anxiety disorders are a sign of personal weakness” (Griffiths). However, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders as well, are of physiological and psychological origins, rather than a product of personal weakness. Without going through the entire list, it is certainly important to realize that both are disorders that may be misconstrued by the general public due to incorrect prejudgments and unfair assumptions. Regardless, the way to deal with both is to seek out professional treatments. Furthermore, a strong, close network of loved ones can also be of great help and importance.

 

References:

“Eating Disorders.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. ADAA, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.

Griffiths, Kathy. “Generalised Anxiety Stigma Scale (GASS).” National Institute for Mental Health Research. Australian National University, 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

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