Women Encounter Depression Before Eating Disorder

Published Online: Tuesday, June 1, 2004

A small study of 54 women with various eating disorders who have attempted suicide found that the women may have had a depressive disorder long before their food issues began. The results of the study were reported recently in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. The women in the study had anorexia, bulimia, or another eating disorder, and half of them had a history of attempted suicide and self-inflicted injuries.

The researchers found that, among the 27 eating-disorder patients with a history of suicide attempts, two thirds had had major depression before their eating disorder began, compared with just 1 of the 27 participants who had never attempted suicide. Whereas suicidal and nonsuicidal women did not differ much in their rates of depression?a majority of women in both groups had a history of major depression?those with a history of attempted suicide exhibited depression at a younger age. Furthermore, women in the suicidal group had a greater rate of anxiety disorders?93% versus 56%. On average, those women developed anxiety at a younger age.

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