Eating Drinking, Overthinking: The Toxic Triangle of Food, Alcohol, and Depression -- and How Women Can Break Free

Susan Nolen-Hoeksema

Henry Holt,  December 2005

What causes the vicious cycle of binge eating, drinking, and overthinking that troubles so many women? Acclaimed psychologist and expert on women and depression Susan Nolen-Hoeksema examines how these three problems, each fairly commonplace in women's lives, can work together to seriously threaten their health and well-being.

As Susan Nolen-Hoeksema revealed in her now-classic Women Who Think Too Much, women are especially prone to overthinking. Now, in Eating, Drinking, Overthinking, she describes how women who begin by overthinking will often smother their negative feelings in food or drown them in alcohol; as many as 80 percent of the women who report suffering from one "arm" of this toxic triangle report suffering from one or both of the others.

  • 45 percent of women report that they are chronically on a diet, while 32 percent of college-age women say they binge-eat at least twice a month
  • 1 in 5 adult women suffers from some form of alcohol abuse and over 13 percent engage in binge drinking
  • 1 in 4 women will suffer a severe depressive episode at least once in her lifetime; while over 50 percent experience mild symptoms of depression

In this highly readable book, Susan Nolen-Hoeksema shows women how to harness their emotional and personal strengths to overcome the stress caused by a destructive relationship with food, alcohol, and overthinking. Readers learn how to transform their vulnerabilities into strengths, as well as how to establish new, realistic standards to live by and stay healthy. Dr. Nolen-Hoeksema goes even further, addressing the ways in which young women are particularly vulnerable to the toxic triangle, and explains how they can avoid it. With compassion and good sense, Eating, Drinking, Overthinking will help women create effective, healthy strategies for living the life they deserve.

hardcover | ISBN: 9780805077100 | Publication Date: December 2005

"I have witnessed the toxic triangle tear apart friends, but never had the name for it before reading this book. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema offers young women like myself new ways to understand their pain in clear, unpatronizing language. Most important, her book describes pragmatic tools to heal. As I was reading, I kept thinking of additional friends who would benefit from her wise and tested perspective."
--Courtney E. Martin, author of the forthcoming Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters

"A brilliant and eminently practical book that brings the best current research to bear on helping women get untangled from overly reflective thinking and the problems with eating, drinking, and depression that go with it. By identifying 'the toxic triangle' connecting these disorders and discussing ways to address their root causes, Dr. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema helps those who suffer tap into a wellspring of positive energy and ultimately cure those disorders whose common roots are too often overlooked by practitioners and patients alike."
--William S. Pollack, Ph.D., author of Real Boys and Real Boys' Voices