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Which Symptoms Bridge Symptoms of Depression and Symptoms of Eating Disorders?: A Network Analysis.

Depression is a common comorbid mental illness in eating disorders (EDs). Network theory focuses on interactions between symptoms, but findings from network analyses of EDs and depression need to be replicated to make reliable claims about the nature of symptomatic interplay. We used cross-sectional data of 366 online-recruited participants with clinically elevated ED symptomatology and constructed a regularized partial correlation network with ED and depression symptoms. To determine each symptom's influence, we calculated expected influence (EI) and bridge EI to identify symptoms that bridged symptoms of depression and ED. Concerns that others see one eat, fear of weight gain, and fear of loss of control over eating were especially important among the ED symptoms. Loss of interest and feeling sad were the key depression symptoms. Eating in secret and low self-esteem emerged as potential bridge symptoms between clusters. These findings regarding bridge symptoms partially overlap with prior network analyses in nonclinical and clinical samples. Future studies that investigate symptom interplay via a longitudinal design to deduce causality are needed.

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