Objective: The present study aimed to investigate the relationship between secondary amenorrhea due to different etiologic mechanisms, eating disorders, and psychiatric morbidity in a nonpsychiatric population observed in a gynecological department.
Method: Amenorrheic women (n = 95) with hypogonadotropic, hyperandrogenic, and hyperprolactinemic features were interviewed individually using the SCID-R (Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R) to diagnose Axis I disorders including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, somatoform disorders, adjustment disorders, and eating disorders. Binge eating disorder was diagnosed according to DSM-IV criteria.
Results: The incidence of eating disorders was significantly higher in hypogonadic women than in hyperandrogenic and hyperprolactinemic subjects (chi 2 = 23.03, p < .003). However, we also found a high percentage of hyperandrogenic women suffering from an eating disorder (40.9%) with a prevalence of binge eating disorder (27.2%), while the only eating disorder described in the hyperprolactinemic group was the not otherwise specified. In addition, a marked psychiatric comorbidity was found in amenorrheic women suffering from an eating disorder but a similar trend of pathologies was also found in amenorrheic women, without any positive SCID diagnosis for an abnormal eating disorder.
Discussion: Our study demonstrated that a high incidence of eating disorders, mainly anorexia and binge eating, characterizes hypogonadic and hyperandrogenic women, respectively. In addition, secondary amenorrhea displays a wide spectrum of Axis I diagnoses, without a significant comorbidity with eating disorders. Whether or not the endocrine findings related to the amenorrheic condition constitute a common background for the occurrence of psychopathology or, alternatively, the presence of psychiatric disturbances may contribute to the development of menstrual dysfunction remain to be clarified.