Just the other day I came across a news story about a woman who had committed suicide after a long-term battle with depression and an eating disorder. Helen Williams was only 38 years old.
Helen’s story is not uncommon. Many patients struggling with eating disorders often have depression. The statistics associated with both illnesses are shocking.
- 1 in 5 diagnosed with anorexia will die within 20 years after initial diagnosis
- Anorexia has the highest death rate of any disorder treated by psychiatrists
- Currently only 30-40% of individuals with anorexia fully recover
- Up to 88% of patients with anorexia have a diagnosis of depression
- Roughly 70% of individuals with depression will experience recurring episodes throughout their lifetime
Why is anorexia (and other eating disorders) so inexplicably linked to depression? Malnutrition.
Malnutrition exacerbates depression and eating disorder behaviors by depleting the brain and body of vital nutrients. These nutritional deficiencies can and do have profound effects on the brain. Several studies have shown that deficiencies of zinc, cholesterol, and B vitamins are found in patients with depression. People struggling with eating disorders may also have abnormal levels of zinc and other nutrients.
Treating the malnutrition is a key step to recovery from anorexia, other eating disorders, and depression.
In April and May, I will be addressing these issues of malnutrition in depression and eating disorders at various seminars and conferences. I welcome you all to join me as I concentrate on topics such as nutritional strategies in the treatment and prevention of depression and eating disorders, focusing specifically on zinc, cholesterol, essential fatty acids, and B vitamins.
Helen’s story is too common. It doesn’t have to be.