Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Brett Silverstein

Second Advisor

Vivien Tartter

Third Advisor

Irvin Schonfeld


somatic depression, eating disorders, disordered eating, depression, fear of fat, bingeing


Depression is known to affect females in much greater numbers than males, with about three times as many women having the disorder as men (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). A similar gender disparity can be seen in eating disorders, where up to nine in ten sufferers are female (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Studies have shown that most of the gender difference in depression occurs as a result of women experiencing a form of depression involving a number of body-centric symptoms, including headaches, weight changes, fatigue, and insomnia, which has been termed “somatic depression” (Silverstein et al., 2013). Some of the symptoms, such as a fear of becoming fat, restricting or binging, and an abnormal focus on shape, are also characteristic of eating disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). There are also overlaps in age of onset of somatic depression and eating disorders (adolescence), as well as potential societal triggers and contributing factors, such as limiting gender roles and sexual objectification (Silverstein et al., 2013; Moradi, Dirks, & Matteson, 2005). This study found a relationship between disordered eating and somatic depression, which may suggest that the disorders have similar roots in body image issues and social roles.



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