Differences and similarities between bulimia nervosa, compulsive buying and gambling disorder


The objective of the study was to analyse shared commonalities and differences between bulimia nervosa (BN) and certain impulse-related disorders, namely compulsive buying (CB) and gambling disorder (GD), with respect to general psychopathology and personality traits.

A total of 188 female patients [50 BN without comorbid CB (BN−CB), 49 BN with comorbid CB (BN+CB), 53 GD and 36 CB] and 50 comparison non-psychiatric women participated in the current study. All patients were diagnosed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth revised edition, the Temperament and Character Inventory—Revised, and other clinical indices.

A positive-growing trend was observed in psychopathology and personality traits across the four clinical groups. Comorbid BN with CB was associated with highest eating psychopathology and social anxiety. On Novelty Seeking, the CB, GD and BN+CB were similar to each other, whereas BN−CB presented a distinct profile. Moreover, the BN+CB group displayed more dysfunctional personality traits and higher general psychopathology. The clinical groups demonstrated overall higher levels of psychopathology compared with the control group.

The results of this study demonstrate that disorders with impulsive traits (CB, GD, BN+CB and BN−CB) follow a linear trend in general psychopathology and specific personality traits, but differ along specific personality and psychopathological dimensions.

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