Eating disorders (EDs) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have high rates of comorbidity. One shared protective factor for PTSD and ED symptoms is mindfulness. However, research on how mindfulness relates to ED-PTSD comorbidity is limited. Thus, the current study used network analysis to explore aspects of mindfulness as illness pathways bridging (i.e., connecting) symptoms among comorbid ED and PTSD symptoms. We hypothesized that mindfulness would negatively relate to ED and PTSD symptoms.
Participants (N=709 undergraduate students) completed self-report ED, PTSD, and mindfulness measures. Network analysis was conducted using R.
Five symptoms were identified as being the most central. These were, in order of strength, being able to describe one’s feelings, not criticizing oneself for emotions, difficulty concentrating, feeling very upset after being reminded of a stressful experience, and desire to lose weight. Bridge expected influence (EI) was stable. We identified three bridge symptoms: noticing bodily sensations while walking, not criticizing oneself for emotions, and rarely running on automatic. Noticing bodily sensations while walking was positively connected to ED and PTSD symptoms, while not criticizing oneself for emotions and rarely running on automatic were negatively connected to ED and PTSD symptoms.
Awareness of bodily sensations may heighten the co-occurrence of ED and PTSD symptoms, while not criticizing one’s emotions and rarely running on automatic may weaken the co-occurrence of these symptoms. Promoting certain aspects of mindfulness may be effective in weakening relations among co-occurring PTSD and ED symptoms and may enhance better treatment outcomes. Further investigation could focus on the impacts of these relationships longitudinally.
Roberts, Emma G.; Williams, Brenna M.; and Levinson, Cheri,
"Exploring Mindfulness as an Illness Pathway Between Eating Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms,"
Grawemeyer Colloquium Papers, Vol. 2020.
Available at: https://ir.library.louisville.edu/gcp/vol2020/iss/9