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Social Anxiety and Eating Disorder Comorbidity

Int J Eat Disord; ePub 2018 Aug 13; Levinson, et al

Difficulty with drinking beverages and eating in public were bridge symptoms between eating disorders (ED) and social anxiety disorder (SAD), according to a recent study. Researchers used network analysis to conceptualize ED‐SAD comorbidity in a sample of 2,215 participants with a primary diagnosis of ED, SAD, or no known diagnosis. They used novel network analyses methods to select symptoms for their models, identify potential illness pathways (ie, bridge symptoms) between disorders and underlying vulnerabilities (eg, perfectionism, social appearance anxiety), and to compare across sample types (eg, clinical vs nonclinical). Researchers also tested several novel network analyses methods aimed at the following methodological concerns: (a) topological concerns, (b) how to use empirical indices to quantify bridge symptoms, and (c) what differences in networks across samples mean. They also found:

  • Feeling nervous about one's appearance was a bridge symptom.
  • The ED-SAD comorbidity is extremely relevant, given that individuals with comorbid ED‐SAD are less likely to seek and/or benefit from ED treatment.

Levinson CA, Brosof LC, Vanzhula I, et al. Social anxiety and eating disorder comorbidity and underlying vulnerabilities: Using network analysis to conceptualize comorbidity. [Published online ahead of print August 13, 2018]. Int J Eat Disord. doi:10.1002/eat.22890.