Eating disorder-related functional impairment predicts greater depressive symptoms across one semester of college

Anna Gabrielle G. Patarinski, Gregory T. Smith, Heather A. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Eating disorder (ED) behaviors and depression are associated with numerous negative outcomes, including lower quality of life and functional impairment. College women are at elevated risk for both. Prior research indicates ED behaviors, including binge eating, self-induced vomiting, and fasting, predict increases in future depressive symptoms. However, symptom heterogeneity in EDs is common, and all disordered eating, or its associated distress, cannot be captured by the endorsement of behaviors. Impairment that results from ED behaviors may be a comparable, or stronger, predictor of depressive symptoms. We sought to characterize the longitudinal relationship between ED-related functional impairment, ED behaviors, and depressive symptoms. College-aged women [N = 304; 72 % white, mean (SD) age = 18.45 (0.88)] completed an online survey in August (baseline), and then three months later in November (follow-up). Baseline ED-related functional impairment, but not baseline ED behaviors, significantly predicted depressive symptoms at follow-up, controlling for baseline depressive symptoms, negative affect, and body mass index. Findings indicate ED-related functional impairment is a risk factor for increases in depressive symptoms across one semester of college, irrespective of ED behavior engagement, weight status, and dispositional negative affect. Intervening upon ED-related functional impairment may reduce or prevent future depressive symptoms among college-aged women.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101873
JournalEating Behaviors
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024


  • Depression
  • Disordered eating
  • Eating disorders
  • Functional impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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