Home Mental Health & Well-Being Mental Health and Eating Disorders: Is There a Relationship?

Mental Health and Eating Disorders: Is There a Relationship?

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Although the term eating is in the name, eating disorders are more than just about food. They are complex mental health disorders or medical conditions requiring professionals’ help. 

Eating disorders might not be a new thing among people. But, recently it has become a great threat to our health.

Although there are no medical exams and lab reports to prove that eating disorders have converted themselves into food addiction, there have been several types of research in the past years that prove, Eating disorders are a thing to be careful about.

What is eating disorder?

Eating disorders are a range of psychological conditions that cause individuals to fall victim to unhealthy eating habits. For example, individuals suffering from eating disorders might start with an obsession with food, body size, and weight. 

Although eating disorders might not sound like a serious case, research shows that eating disorders have the potential to take lives.

Those with eating disorders have a variety of symptoms. Some of the common symptoms are mentioned below:

  • Food binges
  • Purging behaviours
  • Certain restrictions on foods

Although eating disorders can affect any group of people, it has been seen that it is more dominant in young adolescent women.

All in all, you can say that an eating disorder is a mental health problem that starts with an obsession with food.

How mental health is related to eating disorder

Eating disorders are considered to be one of the deadliest mental health disorders. Although individuals are diagnosed with eating disorders in their adolescent period, experts believe there is no particular age bandwidth. It can happen to anyone.

An eating disorder often occurs due to its underlying causes that include low self-esteem, self-confidence, substance use disorder, and a history of trauma and neglect.

Eating disorders have a direct connection with mental health disorders. Now, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when discussing mental health disorders? Depression, anxiety, irritability, and overthinking are a few things that come to your mind, right.  Well, when a person is suffering from any mental health condition, they look for roads that can take them away from such worries. In this case, people turn towards eating.

Eating your favourite food at the time of depression acts the same way a drug does. It stimulates the opiates inside your brain and allows you to experience pleasure and satisfaction. 

This rewired the award system inside your brain. Whenever a person is suffering from any mental health condition, the first thing they turn towards is food.

Common mental health disorder associated with eating disorder

We have already said how mental health disorder is related to eating disorder. Here, we will discuss the same in more detail.


Anxiety is one of the most common forms of mental health disorder. It is a state of excessive worry that doesn’t resolve until the stressor is eliminated. This state of worry can affect the person’s daily life and occupation.

If we go by the stats, almost 40 million adults suffer from anxiety each year in America. This is the reason why it is considered one of the most common types of psychiatric disorder.

Anxiety disorder often leads adults to eating disorders to cope with the anxiety.


Depression is a common mood disorder. It is characterized by an intense state of sadness, insomnia, loss of appetite, feeling of guilt, and psychomotor agitation.

Both eating disorders and depression complement each other. Eating disorders can lead to depression, and depression is considered a common trigger for eating disorders.

It is not surprising that depression is the leading cause of disability in America. Lost wages, deteriorating mental health, psychotherapy treatment, suicide treatment are associated with the mental health that contributes to this disability.

Living with depression can be unbearable and lead to substance use. 


Self-injury or self-harm is a deliberate act of causing physical injury to oneself. In fact, if someone is injuring themselves, it is a sign of emotional distress.

Cutting, deep scratches, skin carving, burning the skin, or hitting walls to induce pain are prime examples of self-injury. 

It is seen that out of all the people who engage in the self-injuring activity, 30% of them also engage in binge eating. This especially happens to teenagers who are being introduced to different facets of life.

Borderline personality disorder

A borderline personality disorder is considered an unstable, intense mood and interpersonal relationships. It is an impaired impulse that badly treats the body. 

People who have borderline personality disorder have intense mood swings and behavioral changes. As a result, it is hard to dissect what they are thinking.

Individuals with borderline personality disorder usually feel empty from the inside and have an unstable self-image, intense anger, and deep fear of abandonment.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder. A person suffering from this mental health condition is relieved through doing things repetitively. 

This repetitive behaviour results in significant distress and impairment of one’s personal and professional life. The result of this mental disorder is that people engage in the act of eating without any reason or purpose.

Bottom line

Eating disorders are mental heal constitutions that require treatment. If left untreated, it can severely damage the body. If you have an eating disorder or know someone suffering from one, seek help from healthcare practitioners.

I hope that you were able to find the connection between mental health disorders and eating disorders.

If there are any additional arguments that can be added to this article, do suggest. I will certainly add them to our article if we find that helpful.

Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health and well-being.

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