Depression and disordered eating are two challenging mental illnesses to overcome. This makes it even more difficult when they co-occur, which happens often considering depression is the most common co-morbid diagnosis in patients with eating disorders .
If you were to create a Venn diagram of both disorders, many of the shared symptoms would fall in the middle. It is crucial to learn what the most common of both symptoms are and how you, your support system, and your treatment team can help you overcome them.
Depression and Disordered Eating Symptoms
Feeling hopeless or helpless are diagnostic symptoms for depression that are often feelings reported by individuals struggling with disordered eating.
Before we go any further, let’s clear this one up – no matter what the voice of your depression or eating disorder is telling you, there is always hope for you and for your future.
Recovery from an eating disorder and living a beautiful life with depression is possible.
Your attitude on this can change the course of your treatment, recovery, and daily life.
It isn’t easy to see this glimmer of light when you are in your darkest and most vulnerable moments, but trust that it is there and that you will find it.
Feeling Bad About Yourself
Negative self-talk and feelings of self-loathing or low self-worth are all very common for those struggling with depression and disordered eating. Combine the two, and you may be experiencing this ten-fold.
As a result, a great deal of your treatment and recovery work should focus on your identity and sense of self.
Bolstering these aspects helps to increase your sense of self-worth and the amount to which you value the unique individual that you are. When we value ourselves and our bodies, we believe we are worth fighting for happiness and recovery.
Again, remember that the thoughts you are having might not be fact. Your depression or eating disorder voice may tell you terrible things about yourself, but you do not have to believe these.
A big part of disordered eating is the secrecy involved, which often isolates those struggling and allows the voice of their eating disorder to have more control.
The same is often true for depression, which results in a lack of joy or interest in anything, even things that once brought happiness, and makes the individual feel a lack of motivation that makes even getting out of bed feel overwhelming.
Fighting isolation is key for recovery and living a happier life. Bring all that darkness to the light so that your support system and treatment team can help you to fight it.
Give Yourself Grace
Many individuals that struggle with mental illness or disordered eating report feeling “broken,” lamenting the “burden” they place on their loved ones and wishing they were different.
Thinking in this way only fuels disordered thoughts and behaviors and discounts the amazing person that you are.
Everyone has struggles and challenges and moments when they need more support. It is okay for you to be in one of those moments.
You are in a scary and vulnerable place, don’t berate yourself for that. Instead, treat yourself as you would a friend that was frightened or overwhelmed; with love.
References: Mischoulon, D. (2011). Depression and eating disorders: treatment and course. Journal of Affective Disorders, 130.
About the Author:
Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.
As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a 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.
Published November 28, 2019, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on November 28, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC