Eating disorder symptoms and comorbid psychopathology among male and female veterans

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. Jul-Aug 2014;36(4):406-10. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2014.03.013. Epub 2014 Apr 1.


Objective: Eating disorder (ED) symptoms have gone mostly unexamined among veterans. The current study assessed rates of bulimia nervosa (BN) and binge eating disorder (BED) symptoms and diagnoses and their associations with common comorbidities among male and female veterans.

Method: Participants were US military veterans who screened positive for trauma histories and/or a probable Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edition (DSM-IV) posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis (n=499). Symptoms of PTSD were assessed using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale, and symptoms of EDs, mood, and substance use disorders were assessed using the Structured Clinical Interview for the DSM-IV.

Results: Lifetime rates of BN and BED diagnoses were comparable to civilian populations, and a considerable range of lifetime and current BN and BED symptoms were identified. In multivariate models, PTSD and depression severity were most consistently associated with BN and BED symptom severity, with depression most strongly associated with EDs for women.

Conclusions: Findings highlight the importance of screening for ED symptoms among male and female veterans, particularly those that present with PTSD and depression symptomatology. Future examinations of the temporal order of such relationships and the degree to which ED symptoms and associated symptoms impact veteran functioning are warranted.

Keywords: Binge eating disorder; Bulimia nervosa; Comorbidity; Gender; Veterans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data*