Possible Anxiety, OCD and Eating Disorder?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’ve always been dissatisfied with my weight. For most of my life my aunts and sometimes mom would criticize me for my weight. When I was in junior high, I would often fast or only eat one meal a day. Also, for a month I would make myself ill 1-2 times week. I would always make up excuses about why I wasn’t eating. My lies caught up to me and my parents began monitoring my eating habits. I never went to see a therapist because my parents didn’t believe in therapy.

Throughout high school, I maintained a healthy weight however, at times of stress I would lose my appetite. Now that I’m a college graduate, when I do get really stressed I lose my appetite. I constantly think about food, fat and calories. I enjoy preparing food for my family but I don’t get hungry. Sometimes if I eat a lot to the point that I’m absolutely filled, I feel incredibly guilty and kinda disgusted with myself. I should also mention that I am a very neat, meticulous person who constantly cleans and tidies up things. I think its obvious that I have issues with my body and food but would you also say there’s a component of anxiety or OCD too?

A. It is difficult to know if part of what you’re experiencing is OCD or anxiety related. You mentioned that you lose your appetite when you’re stressed but didn’t mention how often that occurs. You also described yourself as a very neat and meticulous person who constantly cleans. That may be indicative of OCD-like tendencies but without having more detail about the cleaning or your overall stress level it is difficult to answer your specific question about anxiety or OCD.

To answer your question it would be helpful to know: How much does uncleanliness bother you? Does it cause you a great deal of anxiety? Do you feel you cannot control the compulsion to clean? If something is out of place does it bother you to the point where you can’t tolerate it and feel like you have to correct it? Knowing some of that information would have helped me to determine if anxiety or OCD is a problem for you.

Generally speaking if you have anxiety or you feel that you cannot stop engaging in compulsions such as cleaning constantly then it is a problem. It’s not uncommon for individuals with eating disorders to have co-occurring mental health diagnoses such as anxiety or OCD.

Your main question was related to anxiety in OCD but you also wanted to know if you had an eating disorder. It’s not possible to diagnose anyone over the Internet so I can’t say with certainty that you have an eating disorder but you do engage in the type of thinking and behaviors associated with eating disorders. You obsess about your weight and the food you eat and you also feel guilty for having eaten a meal. You also have a history of restricting your food intake.

As a teenager your parents were not open to therapy. As an adult you now have the choice and freedom to pursue therapy if you so choose. You don’t have a healthy relationship with food and it’s possible you have an anxiety disorder. I would advise that you consider therapy to deal with these long-running issues that have caused you much distress. I wish you luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Aug 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Possible Anxiety, OCD and Eating Disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/08/17/possible-anxiety-ocd-and-eating-disorder/