OCD/Eating Disorders Connection: Information And Resources

It is not uncommon for many who have an Eating Disorder to also suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:
a psychoneurotic disorder in which the patient is beset with obsessions or compulsions or both and suffers extreme anxiety or depression through failure to think the obsessive thoughts or perform the compelling acts—abbreviation OCD; called also obsessive-compulsive neurosis, obsessive-compulsive reaction.


  • Thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again and feel out of the person's control.
  • The person does not want to have these ideas.
  • He or she finds them disturbing and unwanted, and usually know that they don't make sense.
  • They come with uncomfortable feelings, such as fear, disgust, doubt, or a feeling that things have to be done in a way that is "just right."
  • They take a lot of time and get in the way of important activities the person values.

What Obsessions Are Not: 

  • It is normal to have occasional thoughts about getting sick or about the safety of loved ones.


  • Repetitive behaviors or thoughts that a person engages in to neutralize, counteract, or make their obsessions go away.
  • People with OCD realize this is only a temporary solution, but without a better way to cope, they rely on the compulsion as a temporary escape
  • Compulsions can also include avoiding situations that trigger obsessions.
  • Compulsions are time consuming and get in the way of important activities the person values.

What Compulsions Are Not:

  • Not all repetitive behaviors or "rituals" are compulsions.  For example, bedtime routines, religious practices, and learning a new skill involve repeating an activity over and over again, but are a welcome part of daily life.
  • Behaviors depend on the context: Arranging and ordering DVDs for eight hours a day isn't a compulsion if the person works in a video store.

A person with OCD may recognize that their compulsive fears, thoughts, and actions are unreasonable yet these feelings are intense and feel very real. 


OCD can start at any age but estimates show that most common age ranges are:

  • Between ages 10-12
  • Between late teens and early adulthood
  • OCD affects all ethnic groups and males/females equally,

OCD Stats:

  • Adults: 1 in 100; 2-3 million adults in the US.
  • Children: 1 in 200; approximately 500,000 kids and teens in the US.
  • On average the time between OCD beginning and treatment being obtained is 14-17 years.

What a therapist looks for when diagnosing OCD:

  • The person has obsessions.
  • He or she does compulsive behaviors.        
  • The obsessions and compulsions take a lot of time and get in the way of important activities the person values, such as working, going to school, or spending time with friends. (ocfoundation.org)

Treatment for OCD

OCD and EDs
"In relation to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a common ailment and/or sign that is seen in both eating disorders and OCD is the obsession and ritualistic behaviors that tends to be cyclic and incapacitating to the patient. In anorexia nervosa, the afflicted individuals will have unusual methods of eating, dieting and exercising to satisfy their compulsive obsession to keep weight off.  According to Thorton & Russell (1997), anorexic individuals are much more likely to have a predisposition to acquiring anorexia nervosa from pre-existing OCD and in fact, almost 37% of anorexic patients have OCD.  According to Yaryura-Tobias the cerebral functioning and the primitive brain which contains the basal ganglia, is in particular, related to motor compulsive behaviors. Other psychiatric disorders which are related to this very area in the brain include hoarding, self mutilation etc. The true manifestation behind the compulsive ritualistic behaviors, tendencies and excessive thought processes are a result of a combination of higher cortical decision making melding with the primitive brain’s compulsive motor movements."...
"Eating Disorders may also be related to OCD Spectrum Disorders.  For example, Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a spectrum disorder is highly linked to the eating disorders.  In both there is a distorted body image problem, an overemphasis of appearance and constant unremitting obsessions and compulsions centered around the body image.  Hypochondriasis may also be involved when the eating disordered individual begins to develop some physical symptoms.  Their may be an exaggerated preoccupation with the somatic symptoms."
Read more OCD/ED

OCD Self-Assessment Tests:



International OCD Foundation

Resource Database (International OCD Foundation Org)

AFOCD (OCDAwareness.com) 

ADAA Org (Anxiety Disorders Association Of America)  

OCD Ontario Org  
ARCVIC (Anxiety Recovery Centre Victoria)

OCD Online

OCD Tribe 

NAMI  (National Alliance on Mental Illness) 

MHA (Mental Health America) 

What a Difference a Friend Makes

Mental Health (OCD) 

Ofear.Com (Phobia Forum)

OCD Center Org 

Brain Physics. Com 

Dialy Strength Org (OCD Support Group)

OCD Ireland Org 

Anxiety Care Org 

OCD Action Org 


MD Junction (forum)

Support 4 Hope 

 *See sidebar menu for more ED resources, hotlines, websites and organizations

pic source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/katrina-nicole/4530077826/