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By Jessica Ward Jones, MD, MPH Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on August 5, 2010

Eating disorders appear to occur more frequently in individuals with bipolar disorder.

According to a recent study, more than 14 percent of patients with bipolar disorder also suffer from an eating disorder, and these individuals are likely to have a more severe course of illness.

“Our findings are consistent with others suggesting that bipolar disorder may co-occur with eating disorders, and this relationship likely has clinical and theoretical significance,” according to Dr. Susan L. McElroy of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, who led the study with her colleagues.

Bipolar disorder, also known by its older name “manic depression,” is a mental disorder that is characterized by constantly changing moods. A person with bipolar disorder experiences alternating “highs” (what clinicians call “mania“) and “lows” (also known as depression). Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million American adults, and the median age of onset for bipolar disorders is 25 years.   Eating disorders, which are more likely to affect women, affect slightly over four percent of the population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

To assess the frequency of eating disorders in this population, McElroy and her team enrolled 875 outpatients with bipolar I or II disorder in their study. Fifty-six percent of the patients were women, and the average age was 41.1 years. The participants completed questionnaires and were interviewed by clinicians to assess bipolar and eating disorder diagnoses.  Eating disorder diagnoses included anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.  Other information such as psychiatric history (including history of suicide attempts, rapid cycling, and age of onset of symptoms), family psychiatric history, other psychiatric diagnoses, and demographic information was also gathered.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/08/05/high-rate-of-eating-disorders-in-bipolar-patients/16424.html

 

 



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