Depression

Mood disorders, especially depression and anxiety, frequently co-occur with eating disorders. It can be difficult to clearly identify if the mood disorder symptoms were present prior to the eating disorder or were exacerbated by the eating disorder because malnutrition is associated with depression. Depression reduces the intensity of brain activity. Three neurotransmitters are known to be associated with depression: norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. Depression may be treated with one of several antidepressants, but these medications may be ineffective in malnourished brains. Some psychotherapies are also known to be effective, often in combination with drug treatment.

Some signs and symptoms of depression are:

  • depressed or irritable mood
  • diminished interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • insomnia or hypersomnia
  • psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • worthlessness or excessive/inappropriate guilt
  • diminished ability to concentrate or indecisiveness
  • recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation 

Although depression frequently co-occurs with eating disorders suicidal plans or statements need to be taken seriously and professional intervention sought immediately. Sometimes adolescents who are desperate and very emotional, under the influence of the eating disorder, will make statements threatening to take their lives if parents don't allow them to i.e. exercise, avoid eating or go somewhere.  Whenever an individual makes a statement or threat of suicide it needs to be taken seriously, especially if a specific plan is shared.


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