Anorexia Nervosa and Comorbid Psychopathology

Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2018;18(4):316-324. doi: 10.2174/1871530318666180213111637.


Background and objective: There is great interest, supported by clinical experience, in the relationship between Eating Disorders (EDs) and psychiatric symptoms and diseases. The psychopathology of EDs is also referred to many risk and protective factors, and there is some evidence in the literature, also about genetic and neurobiological factors involved. The aim of this review is to examine and synthesize the recent scientific literature on this topic, in particular the complex relationship between Anorexia Nervosa and Neuropsychiatric Disorders.

Methods: We analyzed the best of published literature on the topic, identifying keywords and MeSH terms in Pubmed and then searching them. The last search was performed on November 2017.

Results: Psychiatric comorbidities are very common in anorexia nervosa. Mood disorders, major depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, developmental disorders among autistic spectrum and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and even some personality disorders, substance abuse and borderline traits have been reported, and some observations suggest a positive genetic correlation between anorexia nervosa and schizophrenia.

Conclusion: The great amount of scientific articles dealing with the relationship between EDs and psychopathology confirms the complexity of these problems and the difficulties in diagnosis and treatment. An accurate diagnosis and assessment of clinical risk about psychological, psychiatric, nutritional and somatic aspects are therefore essential for an appropriate therapeutic management of patients affected by anorexia nervosa.

Keywords: Anorexia nervosa; alexitimia; anxiety; autism spectrum disorders; depression; dysphoria; eating disorders; schizophrenia..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Affect
  • Age Factors
  • Anorexia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Anorexia Nervosa / epidemiology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Body Image
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Comorbidity
  • Emotions
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Young Adult