Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

University Of Pittsburgh Research Points To Anxiety As A Key Risk Trait For Eating Disorders

Date:
December 13, 2004
Source:
University Of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Summary:
The prevalence of childhood anxiety in individuals who later developed anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa shows it may be a vulnerability factor for these eating disorders, according to a study in the December issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 1, 2004 – The prevalence of childhood anxiety in individuals who later developed anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa shows it may be a vulnerability factor for these eating disorders, according to a study in the December issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Eating disorders most often strike young women in their teens and 20s, but the discovery of anxiety disorders as a childhood prelude may give doctors the ability to get an early start on prevention and treatment, according to the authors.

“We identified a strong link between anxiety disorders and eating disorders that shows they not only share many of the same personality traits, but also likely share a genetic pathway,” said Walter H. Kaye, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and primary author. “This study shows that to help young women recover from these devastating illnesses, doctors need to develop strategies to treat both the eating disorder and the underlying anxiety. It also is possible that treating the anxiety disorder early on may provide some preventative effect against eating disorders.”

The study of 672 individuals is the largest ever seeking to clarify the relationship between eating and anxiety disorders. The researchers found that two-thirds of people with eating disorders experienced some sort of clinical anxiety, such as obsessive compulsive disorder or social phobia, at some point in their lives. A significant number of them – 42 percent – developed their anxiety disorder when they were children, years before their eating disorder.

The researchers also found that anxiety remains pervasive even after women had recovered from an eating disorder. The normal rate of anxiety in otherwise healthy women is between 13 and 31 percent.

The strength of the bond between anxiety and eating disorders is bolstered by the fact that nearly all women with eating disorders report having certain anxiety traits, such as harm avoidance, generalized anxiety and perfectionism, even if they do not have a diagnosable illness.

The researchers used standard psychiatric tests to assess anxiety. They discovered that rates of anxiety were similar for each of the three subtypes of eating disorders – anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa comorbid with bulimia nervosa. Two anxiety disorders appeared more often than the others – 41 percent of the participants had a history of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and 20 percent had social phobia.

A striking finding was that 23 percent of the patients with childhood anxiety reported a history of obsessive compulsive disorder, compared with a rate of 2 to 3 percent in other children. Because the normal age of onset of OCD is the 20s, childhood OCD could be a significant predictor of a future eating disorder.

This collaborative group is currently conducting a new study of the genetics of anorexia nervosa, for which they need families with at least two relatives with that disorder.

For more information about this study, call 1-888-895-3886, email edresearch@upmc.edu or go to http://www.angenetics.org .

Patients who would like more information on eating disorders or assistance finding a doctor or treatment program, should contact the National Eating Disorders Association at (206) 382-3587 or visit http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

The research was supported by the Price Foundation. Other authors are: Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Laura Thornton, Ph.D.; Nicole Barbarich, B.S.; Kim Masters, B.S.; Katherine Plotinicov, Ph.D.; Christine Pollice, M.P.H.; and Bernie Devlin, Ph.D., all of the department of psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Manfred M. Fichter, M.D., and Norbert Quadflieg, Dipl. Psych., Klinik Roseneck, Hospital for Behavioral Medicine, affiliated with the University of Munich, Prien, Germany; Katherine A. Halmi, M.D., New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, White Plains, N.Y.; Allan S. Kaplan, M.D., Program for Eating Disorders, Department of Psychiatry, Toronto General Hospital; Michael Strober, Ph.D., department of psychiatry and behavioral science, University of California at Los Angeles; D. Blake Woodside, M.D., Program for Eating Disorders; Andrew W. Bergen, Ph.D., Core Genotyping Facility, Advanced Technology Center, National Cancer Institute, Gaithersburg, Md.; Scott Crow, M.D., department of psychiatry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; James Mitchell, M.D., Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, Fargo, N.D.; Alessandro Rotondo, M.D., department of psychiatry, neurobiology, pharmacology and biotechnologies, University of Pisa, Italy; Mauro Mauri, M.D., University of Pisa, Italy; Pamela Keel, Ph.D., department of psychology, Harvard University; Kelly L. Klump, Ph.D., department of psychology, Michigan State University; Lisa R. Lilenfeld, Ph.D., department of psychology, Georgia State University, Atlanta; and Wade H. Berrettini, M.D., Center of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of Pennsylvania.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "University Of Pittsburgh Research Points To Anxiety As A Key Risk Trait For Eating Disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041206204923.htm>.
University Of Pittsburgh Medical Center. (2004, December 13). University Of Pittsburgh Research Points To Anxiety As A Key Risk Trait For Eating Disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041206204923.htm
University Of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "University Of Pittsburgh Research Points To Anxiety As A Key Risk Trait For Eating Disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041206204923.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Work Can Be Stressful, But Is Unemployment Worse?

Work Can Be Stressful, But Is Unemployment Worse?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) A new study shows stress at work can be hard on your health, but people who are unemployed might be at even greater risk of health problems. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Google says it is following Europe's new "Right To Be Forgotten Law," which eliminates user information upon request, but only to a certain degree. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Sometimes the signs of a stroke are far from easy to recognize. Learn from one young father’s story on the signs of a stroke. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Could eating carbohydrates be harmful to our brain health? Find out what one neurologist says about changing our diets. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins