Intermittent explosive disorder and eating disorders: Analysis of national comorbidity and research samples

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Objective Clinical studies suggest comorbidity between eating disorders and aggressive behaviors. This study examined the pattern of comorbidity between intermittent explosive disorder (IED) and eating disorders (ED). Methods Data were analyzed from both the adult and adolescent samples of the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication (n = 19,430) and a clinical research sample (n = 1,642). Results Lifetime prevalence of Any ED was elevated in IED vs. non-IED for both the community and clinical research samples. Though anorexia nervosa displayed no relationship with IED in either sample, bulimia nervosa was associated with IED in the community sample and binge eating disorder was associated with IED in both the community and clinical research samples. Onset of IED preceded onset of Any ED in at least 70% of comorbid IED/ED cases in both community and clinical research samples. Associations of IED with Any ED and bulimia nervosa in the community sample, and associations of IED with binge eating disorder in the clinical research sample, remained significant after controlling for other psychiatric disorders. Conclusions Individuals with IED are more likely to report lifetime prevalence of ED, particularly bulimic spectrum disorders. This finding, and the observation that the onset of IED occurs prior to the onset of ED in the majority of individuals, suggests that longitudinal studies are needed to clarify this relationship and determine whether IED is a risk factor for the development of ED. Early identification of individuals with IED or impulsive aggression may provide clinically useful information to determine most effective treatment interventions.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Comprehensive Psychiatry