Psychiatric conditions double mortality risk in anorexia nervosa patients

A new study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that mortality rates are high in patients with anorexia nervosa and nearly double in the presence of psychiatric conditions.

For the study, investigators analyzed data on all individuals diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in Denmark in 1977-2018. This included 14,774 patients who were followed for a median time of 9.1 years (and up to 40 years) and were matched 1:10 with age- and sex-matched individuals in the general population.

Individuals with anorexia nervosa had a 4.5-times higher risk of dying during follow-up compared with those in the general population. Psychiatric conditions were present in 47% of patients with anorexia nervosa, and the presence of these conditions was associated with a 1.9-fold higher risk of 10-year mortality compared with the absence of these conditions. When diagnosed at age 6–25 years, having a psychiatric condition in addition to anorexia nervosa was associated with a 4-fold higher risk of 10-year mortality.

The mortality risk was similar according to sex. Also, 13.9% of all deaths in patients with anorexia nervosa were due to suicide.

These findings highlight the crucial need for clinicians to recognize additional mental health disorders in adolescents and adults with anorexia."

Mette Søeby, corresponding author, an MD and PhD student at Aarhus University/Aarhus University Hospital

Journal reference:

Søeby, M., et al. (2024) Overall and cause-specific mortality in anorexia nervosa; impact of psychiatric comorbidity and sex in a 40-year follow-up study. International Journal of Eating Disorders.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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