ATLANTA — A significantly higher percentage of adolescent males with eating disorders had comorbid depression compared with adolescent females with eating disorders, according to research presented at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting.
“These are early findings, but they do suggest that there is a greater psychiatric comorbidity load in the male adolescent patients,” researcher Samuel J. Ridout, MD, PhD, of Brown University School of Medicine, reported at a press conference. “And they suggest that males, as is the case across medicine, present later. They don’t go to the doctor when they should.
“This of particular significance, because males complete suicide at much higher rates, about three to one compared to females,” Ridout said. “If you have a population that is presenting later, the risk of that later presentation and identification can be a very serious consequence for them.”
Two studies were presented on a retrospective chart review of 148 patients (mean age, 15.8 years; 86% female) hospitalized for eating disorder treatment. ICD-9 codes for eating disorders as primary or secondary diagnoses, including 307.1 (anorexia nervosa) and 307.5 (eating disorder not otherwise specified) or 307.51 (bulimia nervosa) were used in the study.
The majority of patients (67%) had received prior outpatient eating disorder care. Almost half of the patients (46%) were classified as depressed and 19% had a history of psychiatric inpatient admission. More than a quarter of the patients (27%) had a reported history of suicidal ideation or attempt.
A higher percentage of males had comorbid depression compared with females: 67% vs. 43% (P = .046). However, males had a significantly lower likelihood of prior psychiatric hospitalization (10% vs. 21%; P < .0001). There was no significant difference between males and females in history of suicidal ideation or attempt.
The researchers found that patients with comorbid depression had a significantly higher BMI than those without depression (P = .012). In addition, those with a history of psychiatric inpatient hospitalization had a significantly longer eating disorder preclinical illness (P = .003).
“Those of us in behavioral health and our colleagues in pediatrics should continue to be vigilant in screenings for eating disorders and some of these psychiatric comorbidities in the young male population, and these data reinforce that,” Ridout concluded. – by Bruce Thiel
Ridout SJ, et al. Sex differences in adolescent patients with eating disorders.
Ridout, KK, et al. Psychiatric comorbidities in eating disordered patients.
Presented at: American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 14-18, 2016; Atlanta.
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