Differences and similarities between bulimia nervosa, compulsive buying and gambling disorder

Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2015 Mar;23(2):111-8. doi: 10.1002/erv.2340. Epub 2014 Dec 16.


Aim: The objective of the study was to analyse shared commonalities and differences between bulimia nervosa (BN) and certain impulse-related disorders, namely compulsive buying (CB) and gambling disorder (GD), with respect to general psychopathology and personality traits.

Methods: A total of 188 female patients [50 BN without comorbid CB (BN-CB), 49 BN with comorbid CB (BN+CB), 53 GD and 36 CB] and 50 comparison non-psychiatric women participated in the current study. All patients were diagnosed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth revised edition, the Temperament and Character Inventory-Revised, and other clinical indices.

Results: A positive-growing trend was observed in psychopathology and personality traits across the four clinical groups. Comorbid BN with CB was associated with highest eating psychopathology and social anxiety. On Novelty Seeking, the CB, GD and BN+CB were similar to each other, whereas BN-CB presented a distinct profile. Moreover, the BN+CB group displayed more dysfunctional personality traits and higher general psychopathology. The clinical groups demonstrated overall higher levels of psychopathology compared with the control group.

Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrate that disorders with impulsive traits (CB, GD, BN+CB and BN-CB) follow a linear trend in general psychopathology and specific personality traits, but differ along specific personality and psychopathological dimensions.

Keywords: compulsive buying; eating disorders; gambling disorder; impulse-related disorders; personality; psychopathology.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Bulimia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Bulimia Nervosa / epidemiology
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Character
  • Comorbidity
  • Compulsive Behavior / diagnosis
  • Compulsive Behavior / epidemiology
  • Compulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / diagnosis
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / epidemiology
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / psychology*
  • Exploratory Behavior
  • Female
  • Gambling / diagnosis
  • Gambling / epidemiology
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Disorders / complications
  • Personality Inventory
  • Personality*
  • Psychopathology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Temperament