In some studies the association is between 84% and 100% of those with these eating disorders also having depression and anxiety. Binging, food obsessions and body image issues can trigger or exacerbate depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety can also lead to binging and emotional eating. There are many types of depression including – pandemic depression, seasonal affective disorder and some types of depression unique to women.


In this video you will learn:

1. What is seasonal affective disorder?

2. How the pandemic has caused a spike in depression and anxiety.

3. What are the 3 types of depression unique to women?

4. How can you know if you have depression or anxiety?

5. How depression and anxiety affect binge eating, emotional eating and food addiction.


Schedule a free consult to discuss your food and body image issues:

The Anchor Program is a 12-week non-diet program offering ONLINE group and individual sessions for the treatment of binge eating, emotional eating, food addiction and compulsive overeating. Want to learn more about the Anchor Program?


Hi everyone, welcome to the show. Today we’re gonna talking about an important topic and that is depression and anxiety in those who are struggling with binge eating disorder, compulsive overeating, and food addiction. I’ll be outlining the some causes of depression and some unique factors that only applied to women as well as talking about the impact of the pandemic on our mood and anxiety levels. And how that affects the eating and body image stuff we always talk about. So stay tuned. This is an important topic.

Hi. So today again I’m talking about depression and anxiety in people with binge eating disorder, compulsiveeating, food addiction and emotional eating. And you may not realize this, but mood disorders are pretty common in those people who struggled with food and body image issues. As a matter of fact, the majority of research studies that I looked into in preparation for this show that there’s a high degree of depression and anxiety in people with binge-eating disorder, food addiction, and emotional eating. So the majority of studies showed a strong association between depression and binge eating disorder, for example, and it’s, you know, it’s that it kind of goes hand in hand with a lot of the stuff we’ve been talking about and may come from the same causes. So in some studies, the association was as high as 84 to a 100 percent of those with the binge eating disorder, emotional eating and food addiction, also having depression or anxiety. So the question is what comes first? The chicken or the egg is the depression exacerbating your eating behaviors or are your eating behaviors causing you to feel depressed or anxious?

So some studies focus on depressed mood in relationship to emotional eating and binge eating disorder. And others focus on, uh, things like you know, situational stress or other forms of stress that may cause, uh, depression and anxiety. So research shows that continuing difficulties, such as many people are experiencing during the pandemic, like unemployment, living, maybe having, being in an abusive relationship or maybe your relationship becoming abusive because your partner has lost their job, or is home more often long-term isolation and loneliness. That’s a huge factor right now so many people are isolated. And then prolonged work stress, including working from home, which can be very stressful not to mention the zoom fatigue, right? These are really common causes of depression. And what we’re seeing is an elevation in mental health conditions, including substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and depression and anxiety, which have been reported in adults in the United States, in June of this year. So the prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorders was approximately three times. Those reported at the same time in last year, 2019. Remember 2019, we didn’t know how good we had, did we? So it was 25.5% compared to 8% in 2019. And then the prevalence of depressive disorders was about four times higher than, than it was in 2019. So 24% versus 6.5% in 2019. So overall what we’re seeing then is that 31% of Americans are recording some anxiety or depression symptoms. Thirteen percent started or increased their substance use. 26% had trauma stressor related disorder symptoms. So maybe reactivation or triggering of trauma or new trauma, and then 11% seriously considered suicide. So you may be wondering what does this all have to do with, you know, my binge eating disorder, for example, or my emotional eating? Well, we know that emotional eating is present in those with anxiety and can lead to what’s called loss of control eating or out of control, eating. And now out of control, eating can develop as a result of not having the skills to cope with your anxiety or with the stressors that you’re experiencing in your life and obviously for, as I’ve always said, dieting or restricting, what you eat is not going to keep you from gaining weight if you are continuing to have emotional eating, binge eating or food addiction.

Now there are some different types of depression and one of the ones I’d like to mention is a seasonal affective disorder or SAD. So seasonal affective disorder is a clinical depression that follows a seasonal pattern. It tends to be worst in the fall and also in the winter, which is where we are right now. And that’s why I want to talk about it. And some experts say that you know, the people with seasonal affective disorder don’t experience symptoms in spring and summer and this is due to a lack of availability of sunlight, particularly in certain parts of the country. I mean, in California, we’re pretty lucky. And actually many, many of the Western States pretty lucky to have lots of days of sunshine, but other parts of the country don’t have the same availability of sunshine in the fall and the winter. So seasonal affective disorder is a form of clinical depression. And you know, what we need to be aware of is that it can be both mild or severe, and it affects about 5% of Americans and women are more effected, more likely to be affected in than men. So some of the symptoms that might help you to see if you have a sad include serious fatigue, very sad moods that just continue And you can’t seem to break yourself on them. Loss of interest in your usual activities, sleeping more than you usually do, having trouble concentrating and eating more specially starches and sweets. Now some of those symptoms also apply to depression. So how can you distinguish seasonal affective disorder from other forms of depression? And the only way is that it only tends to happen during the fall and winter months, or if you have underlying depression, maybe it gets a lot worse. So January and February tend to be the worst months. And that’s when the largest proportion of people with SAD are at the severest point in their symptoms. And this is again, due to the loss of sunlight in wherever they’re living. In other words, the shortening of daylight, there’s not enough sunlight during the day during that time period.

So another form of depression is related to situational issues such as what’s going on during the pandemic. And the pandemic has been a major, stressful life event on a global scale. In other words, for all of us. It’s not just affecting America, but right now, in particular, at this point in the COVID epidemic, it’s affecting America worst than any of the other countries in the world. And it also has an effect on seasonal effective disorder because they have that underlying vulnerability to depression and our sensitivity, distressful life events. So stress associated with COVID-19 is contributing to more severe depression and making the depression last longer. Particularly for those people with seasonal affective disorder. So the treatment for that is pretty clear. If you’re not able to get enough sunlight, then it’s useful to use a light therapy where you can purchase a lamp to put on your desk or in your bedroom. If you’re working from home in particular you can get out for some part of the day when it’s sunny, that’s also helpful. And if that’s not helpful, you may need to take medication.

Now, what are the types of depression that only impact women? Well, I think most of you know, about post pre-menstrual syndrome, which is you know, moodiness and irritability and the weeks before your period. And that’s really common. Most of the time the symptoms are mild and only last for, you know, a week before your period, for example, but there is a less common form called a post. I’m sorry, premenstrual dysphoric disorder. And that’s a more serious condition and can have disabling symptoms such as irritability, anger, depression, sadness, suicidal thoughts, changes in appetite, which again, can exacerbate an underlying eating disorder, bloating, breast tenderness, and joint or muscle pain. So that’s another one to look out for. If you’re experiencing that you want to get help for that right away. And it can be exacerbated by the situational stressors of the pandemic.
Also, women are the only ones who experienced perinatal or postpartum depression and that’s depression that comes on after the birth of a baby and it’s distinguished from “the baby blues”, because that only lasts a few days after the baby’s birth. Whereas, perinatal depression can last a much longer time. It can be very, very serious and dangerous. So if you’re experiencing symptoms that last more than three days after the birth, or if they’re very severe associated with any kind of paranoid thoughts or suicidal thoughts, then that’s important to get help for them right away.

And then finally, as we age, there is perimenopausal depression. Perimenopause is the transition to menopause and that’s a normal phase in a woman’s life, but that can sometimes be very challenging and if you’re going through perimenopause, you might be experiencing changes in your periods, uh, problems, sleeping, mood swings and hot flashes. And while all these symptoms are common, feeling depressed is not. So if you’re struggling with irritability, anxiety, sadness, or loss of enjoyment around the, the transition to menopause, then you may be experiencing perimenopausal depression.

So most depression affects adults between 45 and 65 people in middle-age are at the top of the bell curve for depression. But the people at either end of that bell curve, the very young and the very old may also be at higher risk. And especially during the pandemic evidence is showing that pandemic related lockdowns isolation, restrictions, lack of social interaction have inflicted more harm on younger people than the Corona virus itself, at least to date. And there’s nearly half of 18 to 24 year old who are experiencing at least moderate depressive symptoms. And for some it may be very severe. As a matter of fact, the Centers for Disease Control has shown that one fourth or 25% of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 have contemplated suicide in the previous month in large part due to the pandemic and the lockdowns and that lack of social interaction.
So. I hope this information is hitting you and if you know somebody who’s dealing with both an eating disorder and depression or anxiety that you will help them to get information that will enable them to get help. But I want to go on and talk a little bit more because we know that unwanted eating behavior, bingeing, obsessing about food, purging, restricting what you eat. All of those behaviors can also be a symptom of depression because depression can take many, many forms and not everybody has the same symptoms. So depression itself may trigger overeating as a way to cope with all the stresses in your life and also with emotions that you’re not. Necessarily used to dealing with, because none of us are, this is a unique time in the history of the world, where we’re having to deal with a lot of uncertainty, a lot of hardship, and that all can lead to overeating. So one of the ways to tell if you’re eating, because you’re depressed is that you it takes on a very compulsive form. And also you will eat a neat, neat, never feel like you can feel satisfied. And if the depression is not treated, it can continue to lead to overeating behaviors. And you may feel caught in that vicious cycle of eating because you’re overeating because you’re depressed. And then feeling guilty and disgusted and disappointed in yourself because you had a binge and that just keeps the cycle going.

So let’s talk about some things that you need to know to, to help yourself with these issues. First of all, don’t judge yourself for bingeing or over eating, having behaviors doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a person who’s struggling with whatever’s going on in your life. And it’s important to let go of the belief that beating yourself up can keep you from having another binge, because, well, just ask yourself, how is that work for you as Dr. Phil says. So just allow yourself to make mistakes without judging them and without feeling that you need to punish yourself by not eating for a day or going on a restrictive diet or any of those other things that I’ve talked about so many times that really never ever work.

The second thing is bust yourself on your own food rules. You may be like most people with binge eating emotional eating and food addiction in that you have a long list of do’s and don’ts around food. So these rules can take the form of making promises to yourself. Like I’ll never do that again or I’m going to start a gluten-free diet tomorrow because that’ll keep me from eating bingeing on carbs. All of those rules are the exact opposite of what will help you reduce your cravings and reduce your overeating. So it’s really important to, you know, focus on giving yourself permission to enjoy the food that you eat and to be curious about what you and your body want to eat instead, instead of focusing on just eating all the foods you think you should eat or, and avoiding all the foods you think you shouldn’t eat, that’s a food rule, right? So think about what your body wants to eat. Every day I ask myself, what do I want to have for breakfast? What do I want to have for lunch? And that answer varies depending on the day. And some days I may eat heavier foods or I may want to eat something fried or something that is usually considered on the bad list. Right? But you know, if you do that on a regular basis and you stay mindful when you eat, enjoy the food, you’re eating and notice how it feels in your body. Notice when you’re full, when you’re not full enough. It all evens out over time. Whereas going from black and using black and white thinking of I have to be on a diet or I’m just going to be bingeing either, you know, either one there’s no in between that only leads you down a path path of regret. I can tell you from experience and from 20 plus years ofworking with people with binge-eating, food addiction and emotional eating.

So a couple of other tips that are more specific to depression itself is knowing that you can’t snap out of depression. You can’t being positive and have your depression go away. I’m sure many people who have, who have depression have experienced having friends or family members say just snap out of it, or you can be happy if you try or just think more positively, be optimistic, but depression is not a character flaw and it’s not a weakness. It’s something that needs help, needs to be treated.

The second myth is that most people with depression do need treatment to feel better. If you think you have depression, you might want to start by making an appointment to see your primary care doctor. You can also help yourself by taking certain supplements. And I’ve talked about these in previous podcasts, but I’ll just give you a reminder things like vitamin D, which by the way, also has been shown to help with, uh, prevent COVID infections. And so vitamin D omega-3 fatty acids, B complex vitamins. Those are the that’s the triad that I recommend for my patients with depression and anxiety, because it helps your body to respond better to your depression and it helps your brain to make those feel good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin and so on.

So, finally depression also can have a physical component. Sadness is just one part, one potential part of depression. And not everybody feels sad. Some people feel angry. Pissed off and that’s the sign of their depression, but other people also will feel body aches, joint aches, headaches, cramps, or even have digestive problems. So you may also have trouble sleeping. You may be waking up in the middle of the night and feeling exhausted or tired. So here are some of the symptoms of depression, whether it is related to binge-eating or not. You can have persistent sadness, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness or, or pessimism, like nothing’s gonna work irritability or anger feeling so guilt or worthlessness or hopelessness, decreased energy and fatigue. Just having trouble getting off the couch. I mentioned trouble sleeping loss of interest in your usual activities. Moving or talking more slowly or having trouble relaxing, being restless all the time. Trouble concentrating memory problems, changes in appetite and weight, suicidal thoughts, and then aches and pains all over the body. And I’ve already mentioned that depression affects women differently. So just recognize that your symptoms of depression may not be the same as some other person who has depression.

So finally eating well can help with your depression and anxiety. Even if you have a binge, even if you’ve had. It been emotionally eating or obsessing about food. It’s important to continue focusing on having regular meals throughout the day, rather than getting into that vicious cycle of, you know, restricting and then bingeing, like trying to keep yourself from eating a food you want, and then you, your willpower gives out and then you binge and then you go back to restricting and that’s, that’s a vicious cycle that no one can win. So instead, shake off your last binge, your last episode of emotional eat and prepare to eat well, which means eating foods you like and enjoy and being eating them with attention or mindfully, this will enable you to continue providing nutrients to your brain, which I mentioned is important in making those feel good chemicals and helping you to stay strong during this difficult time.
And secondly, you know, I can’t say enough about just moving your body and I, I’m not talking about. Exercise as a way to punish yourself for your last binge. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about just happy movement, you know, getting out, walking around the neighborhood, riding your bike, doing anything that makes you feel good. And that means not just exercises that you know, or burn calories, it could be, you know, walking in a swimming pool, whatever you love to do with your body. And I do mean whatever. Do that learning to take care of yourself is what’s important and that means moving your body. It means eating well and eating mindfully, it needs getting help if you’re experiencing depression or anxiety. And it also means respecting your body’s needs the need for nourishing food, the need for good tasting food. Also the need for rest, cause I know many of you out there are just like me that you don’t want to take any time off. You don’t want to relax arrests. You got to keep yourself going, going, going, going. The body needs rest too. And also it needs movement.

So that’s it on talking about depression, anxiety, and people with binge binge-eating disorder, emotional eating and food addiction. If this resonated with you, if you have binge-eating emotional eating or food addiction or depression and anxiety related to that, schedule a free consult to talk about your individual food and body image issues. And just remember the anchor program is starting a new group. Pretty soon. And if you want to, don’t want to miss out. You can find out more about it in the links, in your show notes. So next week we will continue to talk about ways to endure during these difficult times. And we’ll be talking about resilience and what it means to have resilience. Can you learn it or do you have to be born with it and how can it help you right now? So stay tuned and join us next time, please. You know, give us good reviews if you can. And you can also subscribe to my YouTube channel where you you’ll hear more about all the things I’ve been talking about. Thanks for listening.