What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?
Eating disorders, like all mental health issues, need specific, targeted treatment in order for recovery to be successful. Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and other EDs are very different diagnoses from other mental health issues like depression or anxiety, so successful treatment will come from clinical staff specifically trained to treat eating disorders.
However, eating disorders (EDs) often occur in tandem with other mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse. An eating disorder may be brought on or exacerbated by trauma, or it may cause depression. Substances like drugs or alcohol may play a role in an eating disorder, or they may be used to numb pain or sadness caused by the disorder. Whether co-occurring disorders precede or are precipitated by eating disorders, it’s just as necessary to address these issues as to address the eating disorder itself.
It’s important, therefore, that targeted eating disorder treatment also seeks to uncover and treat any other disorders that are happening alongside the ED. Once dually diagnosed, these different disorders can be addressed concurrently rather than looking at only one issue at the exclusion of others that may be contributing to the problem or hindering recovery. This approach is referred to as co-occurring treatment.