Eating disorders, anxiety & depression | Eating Disorders Victoria
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Studies show that a high percentage of people with an eating disorder will experience increased levels of anxiety and depression. It isn't clear if depression and anxiety are the result of an eating disorder or a risk factor in the development of one - the truth could be a mixture of the two. Eating disorders and anxiety/depression have some common risk factors.

Depression, anxiety and eating disorders are all conditions that can be treated effectively with the help of health professionals. It can take courage to ask for help - contact the EDV Helpline on 1300 550 236 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for some tips on how to get support for yourself or someone you are worried about. Your GP will also be able to help guide you and start your recovery process.


People with depression find it hard to function every day and may be reluctant to participate in activities they once enjoyed. It is very common for people with an eating disorder to experience a level of depression at some time or another.

Depression is one of the most common of all mental health problems with an estimated one in five people experiencing it at some stage of their lives. However, it can be treated effectively.

Signs and Symptoms

Common behaviour associated with depression includes some or all of the following symptoms for more than two weeks:

  • Moodiness that is out of character

  • Increased irritability and frustration

  • Finding it hard to take minor personal criticisms

  • Spending less time with friends and family

  • Loss of interest in food, sex, exercise or other pleasurable activities

  • Being awake throughout the night

  • Increased alcohol and drug use

  • Staying home from work or school

  • Increased physical health complaints like fatigue or pain

  • Being reckless or taking unnecessary risks (e.g. driving fast or dangerously) 

  • Slowing down of thoughts and actions.


An anxiety disorder involves more than just feeling stressed – it’s a serious illness. People with anxiety disorders find it hard to function every day. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in Australia. Nearly one in 10 people will experience some type of anxiety disorder in any one year. Women are more likely than men to report anxiety disorders (12% compared with 7.1%) and affective disorders (7.4% compared with 4.2%). One in four people will experience an anxiety disorder at some stage of their lives.

What Causes Anxiety Disorders?

Combinations of factors are believed to trigger anxiety disorders and may include:

  • A family history of mental health problems

  • Stressful life events

  • Ongoing physical illness

  • Personality factors

Types of Anxiety Disorders

There are many types of anxiety disorders with a range of signs and symptoms.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) involves feeling anxious, restless and/or worried on most days over a long period of time.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) occurs when a person has ongoing unwanted and intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety – often called obsessions. These obsessions make them feel they need to carry out certain rituals in order to feel less anxious, and these are known as compulsions.

Phobias can cause a person to feel very fearful about particular objects or situations.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) involves experiencing bursts of anxiety that occur after a person has a major emotional shock following a stressful event i.e. a trauma, such as experiencing or witnessing a scenario involving death, injury, torture or abuse.

Panic Disorder involves having panic attacks frequently. Panic attacks are intense feelings of anxiety that seem like they cannot be brought under control.

Getting Help


A number of helplines are available to assist you and provide information regarding anxiety and depression:

  • Anxiety Recovery Centre  Victoria (ArcVIC): OCD & Anxiety HelpLine - 03 9886 9377 or 1300

  • ANXIETY  (1300 269 438)

  • Mental Health Foundation of Australia (Victoria) 03 9427 0406

  • Women’s Information and Referral Exchange (WIRE) 1300 134 130

  • Reconnexion (treating panic, anxiety, depression and tranquiliser dependency) 1300 273 266

  • SANE Australia 1800 18 SANE (7263)

  • Beyondblue Info Line 1300 22 4636

  • Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 (up to the age of 18, free call 24 hours)

  • Lifeline 13 11 14

  • Lifeline’s Information Line 1300 13 11 14 (Monday - Friday, 9am to 5pm EST)

  • SANE Helpline 1800 187 263 (Monday - Friday, 9am to 5pm EST)

  • Carers Australia 02 6122 9900

  • Mensline Australia 1300 78 99 78 (7 days, 24 hours)

  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467


Online services


What to do in an emergency

If you or someone you care about is in crisis and you feel immediate action is needed, you can contact the services listed below for assistance:

  • Ambulance 000
  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • The Accident and Emergency department of your local hospital
  • Emergency appointment with your local general practitioner


This information was compiled with the assistance of beyondblue .

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