Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Edward L. Trembley

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Betz

Third Advisor

Dr. Judith Halseth


This study examined depression and disordered eating symptoms in a population at high risk for the development of eating disorders. The level and prevalence of depression were compared between three groups of women with increasing severity of eating disordered symptoms.

Female undergraduate college students enrolled in psychology courses at four small colleges and one mid-sized university in Michigan completed a Biographical Questionnaire, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and an Eating Assessment Rating Scale (EARS). Participants were placed into one of three groups according to severity of disordered eating symptoms based on their responses on the EARS. The three groups were: suspected eating disorder, subclinical eating disorder, and a control group reporting little or no eating disorder symptoms.

The data were analyzed in three ways. First, the mean BDI scores of each group were compared. Second, the prevalence of women in each group with at least a mild depression was compared. Third, the subclinical eating disorder group was divided into those with anorexiclike symptoms and those with bulimic-like symptoms. The level of depression between these two subgroups was compared.

In this study, both the level of depression and the number of women in each group with at least mild depression significantly increased as severity of eating disorder symptoms increased. It was also found that the women in the subclinical eating disorder group with bulimic-like symptoms reported significantly higher levels of depression than did women from the same group with anorexic-like symptoms.

Clinicians need to be aware of the possibility of disordered eating symptoms coexisting with depressive symptoms for some women so that the disordered eating symptoms can be addressed, possibly preventing them from progressing along the continuum toward more severe pathology. These findings also suggest the need for consideration of subclassifications of eating disorders based on a more qualitative approach which may include the presence or absence of depression.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access