Monte Nido

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Eating Disorders

When most people think of an eating disorder, they have visions of teens and adolescents creating certain rituals surrounding their food intake and exercise routines. Others may think of individuals with eating disorders as behaving similarly to those who are living with body dysmorphic disorder and being very preoccupied with their appearance. But the majority of people don’t think of an eating disorder as a condition that is identifiable on the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) spectrum.

However, there have been numerous studies dedicated to the relationship between OCD and eating disorders conducted over the past several years that shows the 2 co-current disorders have much in common. In fact, studies have shown that those with an eating disorder have higher rates of OCD (11% to 69%) and those with OCD have higher rates of ED (10% to 17%). For people with both OCD and eating disorders, treatment is necessary to recover from both conditions. Both are very complex disorders and while patients may live with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder in silence, there are some visible signs like OCD behaviors that family and friends can look out for.

What Do We Know About OCD and Eating Disorders?

Over the last several years, researchers have helped to shift the way we think about OCD. Previously, OCD was grouped together with other anxiety disorders like general anxiety and panic disorder. However, OCD has now been moved to a separate category of disorders that are characterized by obsessive thoughts and/or the presence of compulsive behaviors in people of all ages. This new category of disorders includes:

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Hoarding Disorder
  • Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling Disorder)
  • Excoriation (Skin Picking Disorder)

According to the American Psychiatric Association, OCD is characterized by the presence of obsessions, compulsions and in many cases both conditions. Obsessions can be anything from recurrent and persistent thoughts to the individual attempts to ignore persistent thoughts and impulses. Compulsions consist of repetitive behaviors or mental acts that are in direct response to an obsession and used to help prevent or reduce stress.

Warning Signs of OCD and Bulimia Nervosa or Other Common Eating Disorders

Because disorders like OCD and bulimia nervosa or OCD and binge eating disorder often go hand-in-hand, there are common warning signs that parents and loved ones should be aware of, including:

  • Eating more rapidly than normal
  • Preoccupation with body weight
  • Feelings of guilt due to overeating
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Eating alone due to embarrassment or shame
  • Eating uncontrollably, even when not physically hungry
  • Secretive or vague eating patterns
  • Awareness that eating patterns are abnormal
  • Withdrawal from regular activities (school, sports, other hobbies) due to embarrassment about weight or eating patterns

What Are The Effects of OCD and Overeating?

Compulsive eating or binge eating produces a number of different emotional and psychological side effects for patients that also have OCD. Patients may experience a euphoric feeling when consuming excessive amounts of food, similar to what they experience when completing other compulsive behaviors.

While most people think of eating disorders as food-limiting disorders, many times they can include compulsive eating, overeating or binge eating. In many cases, patients with OCD and compulsive eating habits can experience serious medical conditions, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Major depression
  • High cholesterol
  • Kidney disease
  • And more

Treatment for OCD and Binge Eating or OCD and Overeating

Both OCD and eating disorders are very complex conditions that can carry severe mental and medical consequences. People who have both OCD and an eating disorder like bulimia or overeating should ideally get treatment for both at the same time. Treatment should also be provided by the same team of medical and psychological professionals when possible. With a co-current treatment approach, patients are provided with a comprehensive set of tools to gain control over their eating habits and their OCD conditions to help prevent future relapse.

Contact Monte Nido Today

At Monte Nido, we are dedicated to providing compassionate and state-of-the-art treatment through a combination or nutritional education, group therapies, mindfulness training, meal support and psychotherapeutic support. Interested in learning more about the benefits of co-current treatment for OCD and compulsive eating or bulimia? Contact our friendly and dedicated team online today for more information about the programs we offer.