Published On: Wed, Apr 17th, 2019

Four Mood Disorders That Commonly Co-Occur with Eating Disorders and How to Acquire Care

Mood disorders tend to affect people with eating disorders far more often than the general population. These disorders require dual treatment to ensure patients can move toward their goal of becoming fully recovered. Thankfully, at the start of eating disorder treatment, the intake assessment process can identify mood disorders and allow for the creation of a comprehensive treatment plan that touches on all co-occurring conditions.

Understanding how mood disorders affect people before, during and after eating disorder treatment can help patients start their journey toward becoming recovered with confidence. Let’s start by describing the four most common types of co-occurring disorders and how they interact with eating disorders.


Intense fear and intrusive thoughts tend to cloud the minds of people with anxiety. This mental health condition can also cause physical symptoms to occur, including rapid heart rate, focus issues and sleeping difficulties. Strong feelings of anxiety may come on as a result of a specific event or may present as a general sense of anxiety.

Anxiety can worsen the disordered thought patterns and behaviors typically caused by eating disorders. If anxiety attacks ensue, patients may find it difficult to challenge disordered thought patterns as learned in eating disorder counseling. Eating disorder recovery will be supported by the treatment of anxiety and learning skills and coping tools to address these negative thoughts and feelings.   


Depression causes a persistently down or empty mood that can negatively impact daily life. This mood disorder can cause conflicting symptoms, such as decreased energy along with restlessness, often making patients feel even more stressed about their condition. Headaches, digestive issues and aching pain can also be common symptoms of depression.

When people with eating disorders also have depression, they may have a difficult time finding the motivation to seek eating disorder treatment. This lack of motivation can recur even after joining treatment, making compliance with the program a challenge for these patients. Concurrent treatment for depression and eating disorders can help patients move toward becoming recovered.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder typically causes extreme mood swings toward depression and mania on a regular basis. The ability to gauge risk and employ good judgment can be compromised during manic episodes.

When bipolar disorder co-occurs with eating disorders, the mood swings can make continuing eating disorder treatment more complex. Eating disorder counseling in conjunction with bipolar treatment can create an even atmosphere which will make ongoing recovery more effective. Professionals at eating disorder treatment centers will utilize effective therapy models to help their patients in individual, family and group settings.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, causes a cycle of intrusive thoughts and compulsions to disrupt daily activities. Patients with this condition may have urges to act in repetitive ways and experience a sense of anxiety or dread if they do not engage in the behaviors. These unwanted sensations can cause distress as the patients try to stifle the stressful thoughts and urges to perform repetitive behaviors.

When eating disorders and OCD co-occur, patients may find themselves caught in a loop of disordered thoughts that may impede their journey toward eating disorder recovery. This is especially true if the thoughts, feelings and urges from OCD compound symptoms caused by eating disorders. At eating disorder treatment centers, patients must receive help for both OCD and eating disorders to become and remain recovered.

How Patients Can Acquire Help for Mood Disorders and Eating Disorders

Mood disorders can complicate the eating disorder treatment process, but reaching out for help does not need to be a challenge. When calling 866-452-7206, people with co-occurring symptomology can talk with an experienced admissions specialist to start the journey toward eating disorder recovery. The intake assessment will help the care team diagnose all co-occurring conditions and create a comprehensive treatment plan for their patients. All patients receive care from doctors, nurses and psychiatrists as they move through eating disorder treatment and become recovered.

Author: Isabella David

Isabella is a freelance content writer and blogger. She has a keen interest in writing about health, technology, finance and business related news. In her free time, she loves to play with her cute dog.

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