Dr. Ross shares the connection between eating disorders and addiction.
Well, eating disorders are very much related to addictions of all kinds and also to mood disorders, but let’s just talk first about addictions. So, about 8 to 20% of people with anorexia also have chemical dependency issues, whether it be alcohol or other substances. An even higher percentage of individuals with bulimia or binge eating disorder also have problems with drug and alcohol abuse or dependence.
So why does that happen? How are those two related? Well there are a number of different reasons. Some of them have to do with what the purpose is that the addiction is serving and many people feel that depression may be the underlying reason why eating disorders and substance use disorders go hand-in-hand or are co-occurring, as we say.
As well, many people with both substance use disorders and eating disorders have a history of a trauma or abuse in their lives and this is another common reason why those go together. So, if you have one, it’s likely that someone in your family has had either depression, chemical dependency, or an eating disorder. So there is a familial risk as well between those disorders.
About Dr. Ross, M.D., M.P.H.:
Dr. Carolyn Ross, M.D., M.P.H., completed her undergraduate degree in Modern Foreign Languages at Purdue University and worked as a full-time mother of her two older sons before returning to school to complete her pre-med requirements. She then went to the University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Ross’s practice experience after medical school helped fuel her interest in understanding what makes people heal as she saw that most of her patients’ medical problems were related to lifestyle habits and the stresses of modern living. In searching for a better way to address these issues, Dr. Ross began to explore complementary and alternative therapies and the use of herbs and supplements for her patients. She then completed a residency in Preventive Medicine at Loma Linda University and then set up practice in San Diego, California where she eventually opened three women’s centers where she practiced primary care and office gynecology.