Addressing and Treating Co-Occurring Eating Disorder and Personality Disorder

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Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Director of Content and Social Media at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

The more eating disorders are researched, the clearer it is to see the evidence that demonstrates the complexity of these illnesses. Eating disorders, even with their defining criteria, are as unique as the individual who struggles with them. Many different factors often interplay in the development of eating disorders, including the existence of other mental and behavioral illnesses.

Personality disorders that develop or co-occur with eating disorders can make it feel seemingly impossible to recover. Seeking about comprehensive treatment that appropriately addresses co-occurring disorders can be helpful for a person struggling with both an eating disorder and a personality disorder.

Understanding How Personality Disorders Co-Occur with Eating Disorders

Personality disorders are types of mental disorders that are associated with maladaptive cognitive and behavioral patterns. According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition), personality disorders are diagnosable under certain defining criteria, including the compromise of interpersonal function along with pathological personality traits that are not related to a general medical condition or substance, are reasonably stable across the lifespan, and are not considered to be relatively normal for a particular developmental stage.

Some of the most common personality disorders include but are not limited to the following:

  • Borderline personality disorderWoman in the sunshine
  • Narcissistic personality disorder
  • Dependent personality disorder
  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Anakastic personality disorder
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder
  • Schizotypal disorder
  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Histrionic personality disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder

In many cases, an individual with a personality disorder may not fully be aware of what they are dealing with until symptoms are manifested in context of another mental health issue, such as an eating disorder or during a time of crisis.

Having a full and complete assessment by a mental health professional can help rule out any possible co-occurring personality disorders or appropriately diagnose what personality disorder may be present. Seeking out treatment that addresses both the eating disorder and personality disorder will be essential for full recovery. Since these disorders are commonly overlapping, treating simultaneously is the most effective approach for holistic healing.

If you are concerned that you may be dealing with a personality disorder in addition to an eating disorder, be sure to inquire about this with a specialist, who can assist you with further diagnostics and treatment referrals.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

If you or someone you care for has struggled with a food addiction, what resources were helpful for you in finding recovery and healing? How did a registered dietitian help you in your journey of recovery from a food addition?

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 29, 2016
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