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People with eating disorders are more prone to alcohol abuse

People with eating disorders are more prone to alcohol abuse

Many psychiatric disorders are associated with alcohol use, abuse, and dependence. Among these disorders, I highlight one of the health problems that has attracted attention in recent years: eating disorders.

According to the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-IV ), from the American Psychiatric Association, eating disorders are serious eating disorders, identified especially among women. About 0.5% to 3.0% of the general female population has such a condition, but a considerably higher percentage of women have problematic and sub-clinical eating behaviors. Its etiopathogenesis is unknown, but it is believed in a multifactorial causal model with the participation of biological, genetic, psychological, sociocultural and familial components.

The most well-known types of eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa (AN) and Bulimia Nervosa (BN). The first one is characterized by distortion in the body's own perception, with excessive fear of gaining weight (even underweight, BMI less than 17.5 kg / m2 or less than 85% of the expected weight), weight loss self-induced by deprivation of food, denial of the severity of losing weight, and finally, pituitary disorders that can cause amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) in women and, in men, loss of interest and reduction of sexual potency. On the other hand, BN involves episodes of loss of control and excessive intake of food on a compulsive and periodic basis (twice a week for at least three consecutive months) and use of compensatory methods such as exaggerated physical activity or use of purgative drugs to achieve

Some studies have shown that patients with eating disorders are more likely to consume alcohol regularly.

Some studies have shown that patients with eating disorders are more likely to consume alcohol regularly and have a sense of loss of quantity and frequency of use. In relation to alcohol abuse and dependence, such behaviors are identified among 16% of patients with eating disorders. In an analysis of the simultaneous occurrence of eating disorders and disorders related to alcohol use, 38 studies evaluated identified this type of association.

The importance of adequate diagnosis and treatment of co-occurrence of disorders related to alcohol and food use is still more relevant in two respects: eating disorders are more prevalent among young women between the ages of 18 and 24 and they are more vulnerable to the effects of alcoholic beverages than men.

However, the relationship between eating disorders and those related to the use of alcohol is far from being exclusive to the young. A Canadian study analyzed the risk of developing such conditions at the same time among women of different age groups (15-24, 25-44, older than 44 years), identifying this association in all ages investigated, especially among women over 25 years. In addition, although the combination of conditions is more prevalent among women, it has also been identified among men.

Since the condition of an additional disease can change the symptoms, interfere in the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of psychiatric conditions it is very important that the use of alcohol, as well as other psychoactive substances, should be evaluated from the first consultation of patients with suspected eating disorders. Detecting them early can increase patient adherence to a possible treatment and its success, as well as a good prognosis.

Source: Ponce JC, Silveira CM, Andrade AG, Oliveira LG. Alcohol consumption comorbid to eating disorders: a review of the literature. * Calculation of BMI: Weight (kg) divided by [height x height] (m)


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