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HomeEating DisorderThe Hyperlink Between the Two Situations

The Hyperlink Between the Two Situations

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On the planet of psychological well being, a number of situations incessantly overlap or are present in the identical particular person. These are known as co-occurring or co-morbid situations.

Amongst consuming problems, anorexia nervosa (AN) incessantly co-occurs with obsessive-compulsive dysfunction (OCD). The 2 share a variety of comparable options, and, in truth, it’s typically arduous to inform whether or not somebody has one dysfunction, each, or which one is driving the opposite.

Nonetheless, there are remedy choices which have been developed to assist the folks caught within the crosshairs of those two troublesome situations. These applications will help folks change their unhelpful ideas, face their fears, and be taught more healthy methods to deal with stress.

How Typically Do OCD and Anorexia Nervosa Co-Happen?

Anorexia nervosa and obsessive-compulsive dysfunction each develop in folks as maladaptive coping mechanisms. The heavy reliance on rituals in each situations serves virtually as a balm, providing a way of management and assurance when somebody is experiencing stress or nervousness.

This widespread hyperlink is a strong one, and sure on the coronary heart of why so many individuals who expertise certainly one of these problems go on to develop the opposite.

In reality, analysis has proven that individuals with consuming problems are 9 occasions extra prone to develop traits of OCD at a while of their life. [1] In the case of anorexia nervosa particularly, the numbers are even larger.

One examine revealed that 19% of sufferers with AN would go on to develop OCD of their lifetime, whereas 14% of members already skilled a co-morbid analysis. [2] One other discovered that wherever from 35-44% of sufferers with anorexia nervosa skilled obsessive-compulsive behaviors. [3]

Shared Traits of OCD and Anorexia Nervosa

Primarily, anorexia nervosa and obsessive-compulsive dysfunction each perform as methods to deal with trauma, stress, and nervousness. As such, the situations share a variety of traits, thought patterns, and considerations.

Ritualistic Habits

When folks battle with OCD, they expertise intrusive ideas, that are solely quieted, of their thoughts, after they carry out a sure process, known as ritualistic habits.

For instance, somebody with the situation could also be tormented by the thought, “My complete household will die.” The answer they provide you with to alleviate that thought could also be to verify that the range is turned off, so the home gained’t burn down.

For the reason that thought is intrusive and pervasive, the particular person will proceed to have it. And this, in flip, drives their continued use of ritualistic habits.

Anorexia nervosa can develop on account of this identical sample. Nonetheless, whereas with OCD, somebody could also be involved about something from security to symmetry to the cleanliness of their residence, folks with anorexia nervosa concentrate on meals and physique picture.

As such, many ritualistic behaviors of individuals with AN occur throughout mealtime. They could:

  • Reduce meals into tiny items
  • Eat their meals in a sure order
  • Chew every chew a selected variety of occasions
  • Hold several types of meals from touching

These actions assist folks to handle their nervousness relating to meals. By controlling what and the way they eat, they’ll management their meals consumption to keep away from gaining weight, which is their actual concern.


Certainly, concern and nervousness are massive drivers of each situations.

Obsessive-compulsive dysfunction is technically thought-about a type of nervousness dysfunction, with people trying to alleviate that stress by controlling their setting by means of inflexible rituals.

Individuals with anorexia nervosa use guidelines and rituals round meals, and typically train, to really feel safer and secure. Each problems have intrusive ideas and compulsive actions at their middle.

The hyperlink between the problems is so sturdy that, when a person begins to enhance from certainly one of these situations, they might begin exhibiting extra behaviors of the opposite, in a unconscious try and regain the management they really feel they’re shedding. Their rigidity can tackle one other kind by means of the opposite dysfunction.


Researchers say folks with each anorexia nervosa and OCD battle with performance-related considerations. [3] They’re pushed by a should be “excellent,” they usually really feel intense disgrace and nervousness after they make a mistake.

That performance-related stress solely reinforces the necessity for ritualistic habits, because the actions can then be used to assuage the disgrace or concern that arises from any perceived missteps.

Cognitive Inflexibility

Each OCD and anorexia nervosa are upheld by one thing known as cognitive inflexibility.

Individuals who battle with this trait exhibit a really inflexible mind-set and problem-solving, they usually usually have bother adapting to alter of their setting. [4]

This type of mindset is one other issue that reinforces using ritualistic habits in each OCD and anorexia nervosa. These actions not solely assist alleviate stress, however turn out to be so ingrained, that the thought of adjusting them then produces much more nervousness.

Variations Between Anorexia and OCD

Whereas AN and OCD share many widespread traits, there are a couple of key variations between the 2 situations.

Ego-Syntonic Situations

Anorexia nervosa is ego-syntonic. This implies the person sees themselves and their situation as one, or expertise the situation as a part of their id.

This is likely one of the features that make restoration from anorexia nervosa so troublesome. Individuals could turn out to be so deeply concerned of their disordered ideas and behaviors that they aren’t in a position to separate themselves from the situation, or inform who they’re with out it. [5]

Ego-Dystonic Situations

Then again, obsessive-compulsive dysfunction represents an ego-dystonic situation. In these instances, people have a powerful distinction between themselves and the dysfunction.

Individuals with OCD have a tendency to know that the invasive and pervasive ideas they expertise are merchandise of their very own thoughts and creativeness. In reality, this realization is believed to contribute to their compulsive behaviors. [6]

The stress of experiencing steady ideas that one is unable to efficiently suppress may cause much more stress, main somebody to lean extra closely on their ritualistic habits.

Therapy Choices for Anorexia and OCD

Anorexia nervosa and obsessive-compulsive dysfunction share so lots of the identical drivers and traits, it’s usually troublesome for docs to find out which dysfunction their sufferers are coping with, if not each.

Nonetheless, some therapies have been developed that may assist folks fighting a difficult co-morbid analysis.

Publicity & Response Prevention Remedy

Many individuals with OCD and AN profit from publicity and response prevention (ERP).

On this program, a person identifies their fears and, with the assistance of their therapist, is slowly uncovered to conditions that arouse these anxieties.

The thought will not be a lot to take away somebody’s distressing ideas as to normalize the conditions that will provoke them. And a therapist will step in to assist somebody monitor and perceive their ideas and emotions alongside the best way.

Dialectical Habits Remedy

One other type of remedy for each OCD and anorexia nervosa is dialectical habits remedy (DBT).

This type of psychotherapy focuses on serving to folks make constructive modifications of their lives, partially by cultivating a higher understanding and acceptance of their troublesome ideas and emotions.

DBT teaches expertise that assist folks broaden their inflexible considering to just accept the world as it’s, slightly than counting on ritualistic habits to deal with issues they don’t like about it. It’s useful for each AN and OCD, as concern, nervousness, and cognitive inflexibility are major drivers of each.

Therapy Sessions

Group Remedy

Generally, folks with OCD and anorexia nervosa could profit from sharing their experiences with others going by means of these troublesome situations.

In group classes, they may focus on their fears and rituals. They may even be inspired to eat their meals collectively, all whereas not partaking of their comforting rituals.

Discovering Assist for Anorexia and OCD

Coping with anorexia nervosa, OCD, or each could be horrifying. Chances are you’ll really feel like your life is past your management, or that you’re past assist. But it surely’s necessary to do not forget that restoration is all the time potential.

Remedy or different therapies can be found that may assist you to develop an consciousness of why you’re struggling, and be taught wholesome coping mechanisms you may make the most of to exchange the maladaptive ones.

With these coping mechanisms in place, the world can begin feeling like a much less scary place, and you’ll proceed alongside the trail to a happier and more healthy future.


  1. Gramigna, J. (2021, July 20). Individuals With Consuming Problems Have 9 Instances Larger Danger of Lifetime OCD. Healio. Accessed August 2022.
  2. Mandelli, L., Draghetti, S., Albert, U., De Ronchi, D., & Atti, A. R. (2020). Charges of comorbid obsessive-compulsive dysfunction in consuming problems: A meta-analysis of the literature. Journal of affective problems; 277:927–939.
  3. Levinson, C. A., Zerwas, S. C., Brosof, L. C., Thornton, L. M., et al. (2019). Associations between dimensions of anorexia nervosa and obsessive-compulsive dysfunction: An examination of persona and psychological components in sufferers with anorexia nervosaEuropean Consuming Problems Assessment; 27(2):161–172.
  4. D-Arrigo, T. (2020, December). Consuming Problems OCD Frequent ComorbiditiesPsychiatric Information. Accessed August 2022.
  5. Gregertsen, E. C., Mandy, W., & Serpell, L. (2017). The Egosyntonic Nature of Anorexia: An Obstacle to Restoration in Anorexia Nervosa Therapy. Frontiers in psychology, 8:2273.
  6. Obsessive-Compulsive and Associated Problems: Signs. Signs. (2022). Stanford College. Accessed December 16, 2022.

The opinions and views of our visitor contributors are shared to offer a broad perspective of consuming problems. These usually are not essentially the views of Consuming Dysfunction Hope, however an effort to supply a dialogue of assorted points by completely different involved people.

We at Consuming Dysfunction Hope perceive that consuming problems outcome from a mixture of environmental and genetic components. Should you or a beloved one are affected by an consuming dysfunction, please know that there’s hope for you, and search fast skilled assist.

Reviewed & Accredited on February 22, 2023, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC
Printed February 22, 2023 on


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