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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Study reveals prevalence of disordered eating in patients with anxiety

Embargoed until 03 June 2009

Doctors and other health workers should be more aware of the high risk of eating disorders among people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and other anxiety disorders.

According to new research presented today at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ 2009 Annual Meeting, as many as one in five people with OCD could also have some form of disordered eating. In addition, disordered eating may occur in as many as one in three patients with other anxiety disorders.

OCD is a serious anxiety-related condition that affects 2-3% of the adult population. People with severe OCD may find it difficult to work regularly, or even take part in their family or social life.

Dr Lynne Drummond, a consultant psychiatrist at South West London and St George's NHS Mental Health Trust, collected data from a sample of patients with severe OCD who were referred to a specialist unit for treatment. A control group of patients with other anxiety disorders referred for treatment to the same unit was also studied.

The study found that a fifth of the patients with OCD also had signs of disordered eating. The prevalance for those with other anxiety disorders was a one in three.

Dr Drummond said: “Although these have been several studies examining the prevalence of OCD and obsessive symptoms in patients with eating disorders, there is a dearth of studies where patients with OCD and other anxiety disorders are examined for eating disorders.

“This study suggests that clinicians should be made aware of the high prevalence of disordered eating in patients with all anxiety disorders as well as OCD.”

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Nevins
Press & Social Media Officer
Telephone: 020 3701 2543
Claire McLoughlin
Media & Communications Manager 
Telephone: 020 3701 2544
Out of hours contact number: 07860 755896



Annual Meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, BT Convention Centre, Liverpool, 2 -5 June 2009


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