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Düşünen Adam. 2012; 25(1): 51-57

Exercise dependence and evaluations of psychopathological features

Erdal Vardar, Selma Arzu Vardar, İlhan Toksöz, Necdet Süt.

Objective: Exercise dependence has been described as making excessive physical exercise leading to clinically significant negative consequences. Self report scales were developed for the diagnosis of exercise dependence based on DSM-IV criteria. For the diagnosis, exercise frequency, psychological factors (e.g. pathological commitment), tolerance and withdrawal symptoms should be taken into consideration. However, the diagnosis of exercise dependence has been neglected because its definition is unsatisfactory and exercise dependent subjects do not seek any help. Secondary exercise dependence is defined as compulsive exercise occurring with eating disorders. The aim of this study is to investigate the exercise dependence in subjects practicing sports regularly and to evaluate the psychopathological features and disordered eating behaviors in the exercise dependent subjects.

Method: One hundred fifteen voluntary subjects who had exercised regularly at least three times a week throughout the previous year were evaluated by Exercise Dependence Scale-21 (EDS-21), Symptom Check List 90-Revised (SCL-90-R) form and Eating Attitude Test (EAT-40). The subjects were categorized into three groups as exercise dependent, non-dependent symptomatic and non-dependent asymptomatic according to EDS-21 results and the groups were compared with each other.

Results: Exercise dependence was present in 14 (12%) of all subjects. Of the exercise dependent subjects, 85% met the physiological dependence criteria. Exercise dependent group did not statistically differ from the other groups in terms of psychopathological symptoms and eating behavior.

Conclusions: Our results showed that eating behavior and psychopathological features in exercise dependent subjects were not different from those of the non- dependent symptomatic and asymptomatic subjects. Exercise dependent subjects in the present study were categorized as having primary exercise dependence because they had no psychological and eating disorders symptoms. Psychological features and eating behavior should be evaluated together for the diagnosis of primary exercise dependence in subjects who exercised excessively and differential diagnosis should be made from the eating disorders.

Key words: Exercise addiction, exercise dependence, eating disorders, psychopathological symptoms

Article Language: Turkish English

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