How are PTSD and Eating Disorders linked?

Posted on June 25, 2018

Eating disorders are not merely determined by the amount of food consumed, but mainly by the amount of anxiety and thought processes in the mind. It is viewed by some as an addiction, and a habit of eating that is wired in the brain. There are many factors that can contribute to Eating Disorders such as Bulimia Nervosa, Anorexia Nervosa and Binge-Eating Disorder, and the root trigger often remains unresolved. Unresolved trauma memories can lead to the development of other physical illnesses of comorbidity with other psychological disorders.

Trauma in the past can contribute to the development of an Eating disorder, and there can be various types of contributing traumas. Research has found that the development of an eating disorder is significantly higher in those with PTSD or have experienced trauma, as compared to average individuals (Mitchel, 2012).

Another study in 2001 also reported that women who had a history of sexual assault expressed less control over eating as compared to controls, resulting in a common comorbidity of Eating Disorders and PTSD (Brewerton, 2007).

The causal relationship between trauma and eating disorders is unknown, but researchers hypothesise that the disruption in neural circuits cause by the trauma experienced might have a role to play. This disruption in neural circuits make it harder for the individual with a traumatic experience to manage his or her emotions, which compels him or her to turn to disordered eating patterns.

Category(s):Complex PTSD, Eating Disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) / Trauma / Complex PTSD

Source material from Psychology Today