Exploring the Link Between ADHD and Eating Disorders

People who are diagnosed with mental health issues can also experience other mental health issues. Therefore, experiencing signs and symptoms of concurring mental health issues at the same time. There are some mental health issues that are more commonly paired with certain other mental health conditions. But, one pair that’s often not talked about is ADHD and eating disorders. However, many people are living with both these conditions and need to establish help that allows them to manage and reduce debilitating symptoms of both disorders. So, learning about the link that both of these conditions have and their similarities can help to pinpoint specific types of treatment and care that are successful for individuals diagnosed with both.

Commonalities That Both Disorders Share

ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a mental health diagnosis that is characterized by symptoms including hyperactivity, impulsive behaviors, trouble focusing, and struggles with managing behavior. On the other hand, eating disorders, also mental health conditions, are mental health issues that are characterized by disordered eating behaviors and patterns.

While ADHD and eating disorders are two separate types of mental health conditions, they may share some similar symptoms. For instance, people diagnosed with eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder have trouble with healthy eating behaviors due to struggles with behavior management and impulsivity. This is similar to the type of impulsivity and lack of behavioral management that people with ADHD face.

An Example of How a Person With ADHD Can Develop an Eating Disorder

As a result, it’s found that people with ADHD may find themselves struggling with the same behaviors that people with eating disorders do. Therefore, leading to the development of cycles of disordered eating behaviors. And, even the development of eating disorders themselves. For example, a person with ADHD can experience debilitating symptoms that can affect schooling, careers, and relationships. Thus, resulting in feelings of depression and anxiety. So, they may find that eating makes them feel more in control of their emotions. But, as a person with ADHD that has trouble with impulse control, may have trouble stopping eating. Continuing these behaviors to appease symptoms of ADHD can result in the development of binge eating disorder. So, since there are commonalities in ADHD and eating disorders as far as symptoms, these symptoms can lead to the development of eating disorders.

Treatment for ADHD and Eating Disorders

People living with both an eating disorder and ADHD should strive to seek help through treatment that can address both issues simultaneously. This is because one condition can play a part in the development of another, like the example listed above. However, treatment of one condition may not be the same as treatment of another issue. So, therapy sessions or treatment techniques to address ADHD may not be the same as those for eating disorders. Finding a treatment facility that offers help for both eating disorders and ADHD is what provides individuals living with both conditions the best chance of treatment success.

Some examples of types of therapies and treatments for ADHD and eating disorders can include behavioral therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). And, prescribed psychiatric medicinal therapies are known to be successful in reducing symptoms of ADHD. The types of therapies used depend on a person’s symptoms, medical history, and expectations for recovery outcomes.

Help is Available at Delray Center for Healing

Delray Center for Healing offers mental health treatment for people living and diagnosed with a variety of mental health disorders. This includes people who are living with more than one mental health issue, including those who are diagnosed with both ADHD and eating disorders. Find out more about our available services and programs from our website.