Over the years I have found myself questioning why is it always me? It felt like one thing after another was piling on top of me whilst everyone else was fine. It didn't seem fair that I kept being diagnosed with different mental health disorders and everyone else was 'normal'.
Then, I learnt about the term co-morbidity. Co-morbidity is when a medical condition (in this case a mental health disorder) presents along with and often independently from another condition. It was comforting to know that it is common to experience multiple mental health conditions at the same time, I wasn't broken or weird.
Research shows that a high percentage of people who suffer with one psychiatric illness generally also meet the criteria for at least one other. A clinical trial under the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trails Registry found that in a group of people diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, 50% also suffered with Major Depressive Disorder.
The trial also investigated the co-morbidity of eating disorders (in particular Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa) with other psychiatric illnesses. Below are the results which demonstrate that mental illnesses such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder among a range of others, are highly prevalent along side both Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa
There is no conclusive evidence to explain why co-morbidity occurs however, there are some common sense answers. It is believed that mental health problems often come from a mix of circumstances ; genetics, trauma, environment to name a few. Given that often a lot of these mental health problems originate from a similar source its unsurprising that a person may develop more than one as they may have been triggered by the same event, gene or chemical imbalance.
Furthermore sometimes a mental health problem is developed as a direct result of another mental health problem. For me, my eating disorder developed as I couldn't control my moods and therefore tried to control everything else around me, in particular my food. In this way my eating disorder originated as a [misguided] coping mechanism, and for a while that worked as low weight often results in a feeling of numbness, however, it also resulted in me now suffering from an additional illness and they are therefore co-morbid.
Although not everyone has co-morbid mental health problems, it is clearly very common and therefore if you feel like there is something wrong with you, remember that a lot of us are in the same boat, you are not weird or broken, you are a survivor!