Research Therapies — 01 March 2012

A high proportion of eating disorder (ED) patients first experience some form of anxiety disorder a new Australian study finds.

The analysis of 152 patients – 100 eating disorder (in and out) patients and 52 anxiety disorder patients – not only confirmed a high prevalence of eating and anxiety disorder comorbidity, but found that 65% of ED inpatients and 75% of ED outpatients reported an existing anxiety disorder prior to ED onset.

The first study of its kind among an Australian clinical population, it also found the average age of onset in the inpatient population was 15 years old for anxiety disorders and 18 years old for EDs.

The authors from Sydney University and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital said the data presented important “aetiological and therapeutic implications” for “improving the clinical effectiveness of treatments for eating disorders.”

As expected, social phobia prevalence was “particularly high” and the most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder at 42% across all ED subtypes, the researchers said found.

PTSD was also particularly high, affecting over a quarter of participants, a result the authors found especially interesting considering PTSD was frequently excluded from previous studies.

The PTSD prevalence rate was likely to be an underestimate of true rates “given almost 19% of women reported experience of trauma were unable to continue assessment due to distress,” they added.

OCD prevalence was low at only 5%, with the researchers finding no cases of OCD reported among bulimia nervosa patients, a stark contrast to several previous studies reporting high rates of OCD among ED cohorts.

The authors urged clinicians to screen for “eating pathology in the clinical assessment of anxiety disorders”.

First appeared Psychiatry Update

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