Psychiatric symptoms associated with eating disorder in a college population

Michael Pertschuk
Marjeanne Collins
Janet Kreisberg
Samuel Fager


While population surveys have typically demonstrated a high prevalence of bulimic symptoms, the vast majority of cases detected are neither severe nor treated. To assess the psychiatric significance of eating disorder symptoms, 1494 questionnaire packets were distributed to female undergraduates of a large Eastern university. In addition to questions concerning eating patterns, the packet included standardized measures of depression, trait anxiety, and self concept. Sixty‐four percent of the packets were completed. Within the group responding to the survey, 7.4% reported current binging and purging, 6.9% binging alone, 7.3% purging alone, and 78.4% normal eating. Symptom frequency reflected a mild form of eating disorder. Despite the lack of seventy, there were significant differences between groups on depression, Self‐concept, and trait anxiety. Binge‐purgers and bingers demonstrated more depression, anxiety, and lower Self‐concept than the other groups. Eating disorder patterns, even when not sufficiently severe to warrant a diagnosis of bulimia may signal the presence of other psychiatric disturbance.