Anxiety Disorders in Children May Foretell Eating Disorders

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
March/April 2003 Volume 14, Number 2
©2003 Gürze Books

Early-onset anxiety disorders (AD) in children may increase the risk that they will develop an eating disorder, according to results from the Price Foundation genetic collaborative studies. Among 673 subjects diagnosed with eating disorders, 428 were diagnosed with at least one anxiety disorder during their lifetime. The most common anxiety disorder in this group was obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which occurred in about 40% of subjects. After OCD, the next most common AD was social phobia (20%). Rates for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and agoraphobia ranged from 2% to 4%.

When patients were asked to estimate the age at which their anxiety disorder and eating disorder first appeared, to determine the order of onset, the researchers learned that OCD, social phobia, a specific phobia, or generalized anxiety disorder preceded the eating disorder in most patients. In contrast, PTSD and panic disorder more commonly occurred after the onset of an eating disorder. Dr. Walter H. Kaye and colleagues reported the results at the Eating Disorders Research Society meeting last November in Charleston, SC.

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