By Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C
Eating disorders and mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder often co-occur. I have a lot of experience working with clients who struggle with both and there are some important considerations when it comes to treatment and recovery.
Eating disorders and depression
Living with an eating disorder and depression is exhausting. Depression can impact motivation for recovery and it can also impact appetite. When depression is causing a loss of appetite, this adds another layer of challenge to eating disorder recovery.
Restricting food and not getting enough nutrition to meet your energy needs can also serve to increase feelings of depression.
In How to Thrive, Expert Tips for Coping with Depression and an Eating Disorder by Jennifer Rollin, Nicole Cruz, RD, says, ‘recognize that depression is a change in brain chemistry and to keep the brain functioning at its optimal level we need to maintain appropriate nutrition. In other words, we don’t want to contribute more to the depression and negative thoughts due to low nutrient intake.
Cruz also states that, ‘carbohydrates are the primary source of energy to the brain and low carbohydrate diets are highly correlated with depression.'
Quality treatment focuses on treating both the depression and the eating disorder. When you’re in a depressive episode it can feel hopeless and like it will last for forever. Both depression and eating disorders tell a whole bunch of lies and it’s so important to have a skilled therapist to help you to challenge unhelpful thinking patterns.
Eating disorders and bipolar disorder
Depression, hypomania and mania can all impact appetite, which can add a layer of challenge to eating disorder recovery.
Additionally, while it’s so important to note that eating disorders are NOT choices-often they are in part a coping strategy and for some a way to feel a (false) sense of control. Living with bipolar disorder can feel very out of control so it makes sense that eating disorder behaviors may for some be attempts to try to regain a (false) sense of control when their mood is unpredictable.
While bipolar disorder never goes away, it can be effectively managed. Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible.
The Bottom Line
There is hope and it’s possible to reclaim your life and to live according to your true values.
Both mood disorders and eating disorders are highly treatable and it’s far harder to address an underlying mood disorder when you are constantly battling eating disorder thoughts in your head.
It’s so critical to work with a therapist who has experience with eating disorders and mood disorders if you are struggling.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, reach out to The Eating Disorder Center via the link here.
The Eating Disorder Center is a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center founded by Jennifer Rollin. We specialize in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, OSFED, and body image issues. We provide eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Silver Spring, Germantown, and Washington D.C. We also provide eating disorder therapy in Arlington, Virginia and virtually throughout Virginia. Additionally, we offer eating disorder therapy virtually in New York (NYC), Florida, and California, serving those in cities including Palo Alto, San Francisco, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, San Jose, and Beverly Hills. We provide eating disorder recovery coaching via Zoom to people worldwide. Connect with us through our website at www.theeatingdisordercenter.com
The Eating Disorder Center
We are a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center in Rockville, Maryland.