Kimberley Quinlan, MFT, of the OCD Center of Los Angeles discusses the diagnostic overlap between OCD and eating disorders. Part one of a two-part series.
I was recently asked by a client if there was any functional difference between eating disorders and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). After all, if OCD is defined as experiencing obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, wouldn’t an eating disorder be categorized in the same way, given that those with eating disorders have obsessive thoughts about their weight and appearance, and respond to these thoughts with compulsive behaviors?
When looked at along these lines, it is obvious that OCD and eating disorders indeed have many similarities. But it is important to consider certain distinctions between these conditions before formulating a diagnosis.
To provide a better understanding of OCD and both its differences and similarities with eating disorders, clinicians rely upon specific diagnostic criteria. Recently, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) refined these criteria in the newly published Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (fifth edition), also known as the DSM-5. This manual is used by clinicians to differentiate between various psychological conditions, thus assisting in the development and implementation of appropriate treatment.