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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Eating disorders with and without comorbid depression and anxiety: similarities and differences in a clinical sample of children and adolescents.

  • Author(s): Hughes, Elizabeth K
  • Goldschmidt, Andrea B
  • Labuschagne, Zandre
  • Loeb, Katharine L
  • Sawyer, Susan M
  • Le Grange, Daniel
  • et al.

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This study aimed to describe and compare the demographic and clinical characteristics of children and adolescents with an eating disorder (ED) and comorbid depression or anxiety.


Data were drawn from intake assessments of children and adolescents at a specialist ED clinic. Demographic characteristics (e.g. age and gender) and clinical characteristics (e.g. body mass, binge eating and purging) were compared between 217 ED participants without comorbidity, 32 with comorbid anxiety, 86 with comorbid depression and 36 with comorbid anxiety and depression.


The groups with comorbid depression had more complex and severe presentations compared with those with an ED and no comorbid disorder and those with comorbid anxiety alone, especially in regard to binge eating, purging, dietary restraint and weight/shape concerns.


Depression and anxiety were differentially related to clinical characteristics of EDs. The findings have implications for understanding the relations between these disorders and their potential to impact outcome of ED treatments.

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