Are PTSD And Eating Disorders Related?

Everyone has a traumatic experience once in their lifetime. These experiences consist of stressful or overwhelming situations or upbringing in childhood. For people with post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) and C(Complex)-PTSD, these experiences can lead to further mental health complications. Depression and anxiety are the most common manifestations, but eating disorders(EDs) are an extension too. Let us begin by exploring eating disorders to understand the relationship between PTSD and eating disorders.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can involve body image, your beliefs about diet, and your way of food consumption. In most cases, these disorders can become serious or life-threatening if left unchecked. The most common eating disorders include:

-Anorexia: Calorie counting is healthy, and being fit is easier when trying to avoid weight gain. But anorexia takes this attitude to the extreme. People with anorexia excessively fear gaining weight and eat an extremely low-calorie diet. This condition can cause them to become underweight and malnourished(not getting enough nutrients).

-Bulimia Nervosa: Bulimia is a condition that consists of eating large amounts of food at a time and purging afterward. Purging can include vomiting, taking laxatives, or exercising a lot. This severe and life-threatening condition forms an eat-and-purge addiction or cycle.

Binge Eating Disorder: Maintaining your fitness can be challenging, and everyone needs a break once in a while. Some people compensate for their strict monthly, weekly, or yearly diet by setting up binge days when they are free to eat as they fancy. But many people have taken this to the extreme and eat foods without thinking because of stress, anxiety, or other underlying mental health conditions. 

Read more: Mindful eating meditation exercises

Relationship Between C-PTSD, PTSD, And Eating Disorders

In PTSD, eating disorders can be a way for patients to distance themselves from traumatic thoughts, emotions, or memories. Trauma, neglect, or abuse related to food deprivation, physical abuse, sexual abuse, assault, teasing, bullying, and other related conditions, can lead to eating disorders. It is unclear why or how trauma leads to the development of eating disorders.

C-PTSD or complex PTSD involves repeated, irregular, asymmetrical, and life-threatening abuse, usually throughout childhood or adolescence. People with C-PTSD are more likely to develop EDs as they are troubled with deeper complexes and underlying traumas.

One common attribute of PTSD and eating disorders is they both involve dissociation. Dissociation involves separating mental processes that generally occur together. In this state, the patient disconnects with or loses awareness of reality. Suffering from an eating disorder doesn’t necessarily indicate PTSD, but a history of trauma, neglect, or abuse can show the same. If you or anyone you know suffers from a similar condition, we recommend opting for therapy.

Read more: Psychotherapy for PTSD


PTSD and eating disorders are severe health conditions that share a connection. If you or anyone you know suffers from similar symptoms, we recommend opting for therapy. While every therapist has their own skill set, experiences, and techniques, an effective therapist is someone you can trust and want to rely on. Finding the right therapist can be challenging, but we are here to help. You can start immediately with this list of the five best affordable online therapy platforms.

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