Understanding The Relationship Between Anxiety And Eating Disorders

Anxiety disorders are among the most common co-occurring mental health issues with eating disorders.

Getting to know the Relationship Between Anxiety And Eating Disorders is essential for ones mental health.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 47.9% of people with anorexia nervosa, 80.6% of people with bulimia nervosa, and 65.1% of people with binge eating disorder have anxiety problems.

This is why looking for the perfect eating disorder treatment center has become a priority for many people nowadays.

According to research, any co-occurring mental health illness should be treated concurrently with the eating disorder.

Henceforth, knowing the link between eating disorders and anxiety disorders is critical.

Anxiety Disorder-Definition

Anxiety Disorder is a category of mental health issues. Some of its prevalent symptoms are restlessness, panic, sweating, tremor, a feeling of weakness, etc.

These are disorders that share symptoms of excessive dread and anxiety symptoms and related behavioral problems.

Most individuals don’t become aware that they’re referring to a bigger category when they say “anxiety disorder” and instead focus on the most common anxiety disorder diagnosis, Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Eating Disorder-Overview

Most people can discover something they don’t like about their bodies, and many of them take steps to enhance their appearance by eating more healthily or beginning an exercise program.

Those who suffer from eating problems establish habits that can be pretty harmful.

They may go on a fast or severely restrict their calorie intake, exercise for hours each day, or take other measures to avoid gaining weight. Even though they are frequently underweight, they are terrified of gaining weight.

Eating disorders usually arise around adolescence or early adulthood; however, they can also develop during childhood or much later in life.

Relationship Between Anxiety And Eating Disorders

Anxiety Disorders precede eating disorders in most cases.

A controlled study published in 2019 found that concomitant anxiety disorders were common in 60% of women with diagnosed anorexia nervosa, 60% of women with bulimia nervosa, and 57% women with binge eating disorders.

Anxiety disorders were present in 90% of women with anorexia nervosa and 94% of women with bulimia nervosa before developing an eating disorder.

Getting rid of an eating disorder isn’t always the end of anxiety and depression. In addition, it’s critical to get treatment for your co-occurring disorder if you have a dual diagnosis.

It won’t be like the therapy you’d get if you only had one or the other.

It’s also worth noting that recovery from an eating problem doesn’t always imply that anxiety and depression symptoms will go away.

Anorexia survivors have been reported to have significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression in studies, indicating that you may need to seek therapy in the form of counseling, medication, or both.

Many eating disorders are about a person’s struggle to reclaim control. You might not have noticed it, but this could be linked to their anxiousness.

Being able to regulate one’s food, weight, or exercise, for example, can provide someone suffering from acute anxiety a false sensation of control, momentarily alleviating anxiety symptoms.

If an individual’s anxiety treatment effectively reduces their need for control, the anxiety problem may not progress into a full-blown eating disorder.


Anxiety disorders are the most frequent mental ailment in the United States, impacting 40 million persons aged 18 and up each year, or 18.1% of the population. Only 36.9% of people suffering from anxiety obtain therapy.

GAD affects 6.8 million adults in the United States or 3.1% of the population, but only 43.2% of those affected receive treatment. Anxiety affects women twice as much as it does men.

In fact, adolescent women are most likely to develop this disease. For example, a recent study showed that 31% of women aged 18-23 with anxiety problems were at high risk of developing an eating disorder.

Over 60% of those with an eating disorder had an anxiety illness, according to a survey of 2,500 people.

While eating disorders frequently co-occur with depression and substance abuse, anxiety is the most common of all the diseases that co-occur with anorexia.

These comorbidity findings raise serious concerns regarding the nature of eating disorders and how they are treated.

Anxiety And Eating Disorders Treatment

The treatment of eating disorders and anxiety is done best by mental health professionals because these diseases, although having physical signs, are rooted in the lack of mental health wellbeing.

Some of the best treatment options are:

1: Medication

People typically have reservations about using psychiatric medicine, although evidence shows that it is effective in treating anxiety problems.

Medication may be a short-term or long-term therapeutic option, depending on the severity of symptoms, underlying medical illnesses, and other individual circumstances.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), and Benzodiazepines are all common anxiety medications.

2: Therapy

Both anxiety and eating disorder treatment benefit from therapy, which has been shown to be successful in both cases. In reality, the most effective treatment for both illnesses is the same.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most evidence-based treatment for practically all mental diseases.

Treatments like exposure therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy are applied in many mental hospitals to help the person overcome the disease.

3: Relapse Prevention & Aftercare Support

As previously stated, treating both co-occurring eating disorders and anxiety disorders at the same time is the most effective strategy for relapse prevention.

Neither is more significant than the other. Since these diseases are so intertwined, addressing anxiety issues involves treating eating disorder psychology, and treating eating disorder psychology and practices can only help with anxiety symptoms.

Whether you’re just starting a treatment or transitioning from inpatient to outpatient care, remember that working with a team that understands and treats both disorders is the most likely way to achieve long-term eating disorder and anxiety recovery.

Are We Clear?

We hope you have understood the inherent connection between anxiety and eating disorders because one precedes another.

However, not all cases of anxiety result in an eating disorder, but most cases of eating disorders are rooted in anxiety problems.

If you need more details on these diseases, let us know in the comment section below. We will get back to you with an answer in no time.

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