What is the Connection Between Bulimia and Depression?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen
People suffering from eating disorders have higher levels of depression.
People suffering from eating disorders have higher levels of depression.

The connection between bulimia and depression is typically one of cause and effect, though the relationship can go in either direction or potentially both in a cyclical manner. Bulimia is often caused by a poor body image, which leads someone to obsess about food and weight and make the person typically unable to see himself or herself in a positive way. These views cause the person to act in a way that often makes him or her feel ashamed and guilty, which can cause feelings of depression. This depression can then make the person continue to obsess further, often creating a causal and almost parasitic relationship between bulimia and depression.

When experiencing stress or depression, people may binge on junk food to feel happy.
When experiencing stress or depression, people may binge on junk food to feel happy.

While bulimia and depression are not always necessarily connected, and one can certainly exist without the other, there is evidence to indicate a connection between bulimia and depression. The way in which these two disorders are often connected is through cause and effect, with one condition typically causing the other. Bulimia is a psychological eating disorder in which a person obsesses about food to the point at which he or she overeats in a fit of binging, which is typically followed by the person purging the food from his or her system. This can be done through a number of different means, including a person inducing vomiting or taking laxatives.

Some people are unable to eat normally while battling depression and anxiety.
Some people are unable to eat normally while battling depression and anxiety.

After this cycle of binging and purging plays out, the person will typically feel a great deal of shame and guilt over his or her actions and feelings toward food. Bulimia and depression become connected quite often at this point, as the shame the person feels can often push him or her to become depressed. While bulimia is an eating disorder, it also can often have social side effects, as a person may be unwilling to eat in public or withdraw from others due to the feelings of shame and guilt that he or she experiences. This withdrawal from friends and family can further cause someone to feel depressed, adding to the connection between bulimia and depression.

Poor body image can lead to eating disorders and depression.
Poor body image can lead to eating disorders and depression.

The depression caused by this withdrawal can then potentially feed the person’s obsession with food and eating, since he or she recognizes that the disorder is causing his or her depression. At this point, someone can then continue bulimic practices due to this increased fixation on food as the root of his or her problems, further binging and purging. Once this happens, then bulimia and depression are connected for the person, as one condition causes the other, which then causes the other in a reciprocating cycle of guilt and depression.

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