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Do psychiatric conditions increase the risk of early death in individuals with anorexia nervosa?

Written by | 23 Jun 2024 | Mental Health

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

URL upon publication: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/eat.24223

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