The Rise of Eating Disorders During COVID-19

Though the pandemic disrupted all of our lives, COVID-19 affected each of us differently. Some of us saw the virus’s arrival as the perfect time for us to start a new life. new hobbies, others turned to Substances to pass the time. Similar, others used the time to enter. Top-of-the-line shape, the majority of us — some 61 percent, according to a Recent studies — reported undesired weight changes in either direction. Eating disorders were also a possibility.

The Rise of Eating Disorders Frequency and Severity

According to ResearchSome 30 million Americans had already used it. eating disorder before the pandemic made landfall. Unfortunately, many of these folks’ conditions were exacerbated during COVID-19 lockdowns. 

“We have seen roughly a 30% to 40% increase in referrals to our clinic alone,” Dr. Christine Peat, PhD, who works at UNC Chapel Hill’s Center for Excellence in Eating Disorder, recently told MedPage Today. 

People with eating disorders were unable to control their symptoms during the pandemic. One ReportFor example, 62% of people with anorexia and 32% with bulimia and other binge-eating disorders felt that their conditions were worsening as the virus spread around the globe. 

In particular, it appears that Teenage females were particularly affected by this trend, with a 30% increase in hospitalizations among this group, compared to no increase among their male counterparts. This trend is often attributed to the rise in obesity. Social media, and the average teenager is constantly exposed to models and influencers. This leads to unrealistic beauty standards. 

Since eating disorders can lead to all sorts of serious health issues — up to and including death — it is critical for therapists to understand how these conditions develop over time and the signs that might indicate your clients are struggling to maintain a healthy appetite and diet. 

How do eating disorders develop? What signs should I look for? 

According to the National Institutes of HealthEating disorders can be serious medical conditions. Eating disorders can affect anyone of any age, gender, race, weight, or age. However, they are most common in teenagers and young adults. 

Obsession with food, how they look and how much they weigh are the most common signs of an eating disorder.  

There are three types of eating disorders. We will be briefly discussing each one and the symptoms that may occur in those affected.

1. Anorexia Nervosa 

Anorexia is a condition that affects people who are overweight and don’t eat enough to lose weight. These people tend to be very picky about what they eat. People with anorexia may be extremely thin but can have larger bodies. (Interestingly, the Anorexia can have negative consequences are comparable regardless of body size.) Anorexia patients often have a distorted view of themselves. They fear losing weight and avoid food.  

Anorexia can lead to osteoporosis, anemia and brittle nails and hair.  

Depending on the severity, they could also suffer brain damage or organ failure and infertility. Due to this, it comes as no surprise that the NIH says that roughly 10% of anorexia sufferers die from the condition.

2. Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia can be defined as a condition that causes people excessive eating. In some cases, they feel as though they have no control over what they’re consuming. In order to keep the weight off, many people with bulimia purge after binging by either forcing themselves to throw up or taking laxatives. Others may fast after binging episodes to deprive their bodies of essential nutrients. 

Some of the most common symptoms of bulimia include a chronically sore throat, swollen salivary glands, worn tooth enamel, and decaying teeth — all of which stem from forcing oneself to vomit. People with bulimia may also experience severe dehydration due to purging and, if they take laxatives to purge, intestinal problems. 

3. Binge-eating 

Binge eating is similar to bulimia, but with one important difference: Binge eaters don’t exercise excessively or purge to lose weight. This is why those with this illness are often overweight or obese. 

How can you tell whether someone has a binge eating disorder (BED). They consume large amounts of food quickly and eat a lot of food in a short amount of time. They eat until they feel full and eat alone in their own homes. BED sufferers are also known to talk about diets on a regular basis, even if they never lose weight. 

Explore this site to learn more about eating disorders and how they can be treated. Our CE courses about food and eatingUnlimitted access to our CE Program is included In Premium and Pro memberships and CE Unlimited plans. Anyone can purchase courses a la carte 

Eating Disorder Assumptions to Avoid 

Now that you have a better idea of the types of eating disordersAnd the symptoms associated with each, let’s go over some of the common assumptions people incorrectly make about eating disorders so you can avoid asking clients unfair or inappropriate questions. 

While you certainly don’t want anyone’s eating disorders to persist, you also don’t want to falsely accuse a client of having an eating disorder.  

With that in mind, here are some Common myths about eating disorders to help you start thinking in the right direction.

1. If you are overweight or obese, you may have an eating disorder.

Just because someone looks malnourished or overweight doesn’t necessarily mean they have an eating disorder. There are many different reasons why people’s bodies might look the way they do other than eating disorders. For example, someone taking prednisone might develop facial swelling (also known as “Moon face”). While they may look like they’ve suddenly gained a lot of weight, that change can be attributed to the steroid — not binge-eating. 

In other words, the way someone looks isn’t enough information to determine whether they might have an eating disorder. There are many other factors that could affect their appearance.

2. Men don’t suffer from eating disorders.

While it’s true that most of those who have eating disorders are women, WebMD says that 15 percent of all cases are attributed to men. That being the case, you shouldn’t automatically assume that your super-skinny or super-overweight male client does not have an eating disorder. 

3. Eating disorders can be life-threatening. 

Some folks think that if you have anorexia, bulimia, or binge-eating disorder, you’re going to have it for the rest of your life.  

Simply put, that’s not the case. By locking into the right treatment and being determined to make significant lifestyle changes, it’s possible for anyone who suffers from an eating disorder to change the way they perceive the world and reclaim a new, healthy lifestyle. 

Treatment for Eating Disorder

Remind your client they are not Alone

 Millions of Americans across the country have eating disorders, and millions more know someone who does. This can be a comforting thought to someone with an eating disorder. 

Take eating disorders seriously

It’s important to gauge the severity of the situation. Whatever you do, don’t take eating disorders lightly. Once you’ve got a handle on what your client is facing, remind them to take a deep breath and let them know that these illnesses can be resolved, and therapy is one of the best ways to start on that healing journey.  

Finding a therapist who is well-qualified to treat eating disorders is important because, unfortunately, Not all therapists are aware of the prevalence of eating disorders and what to look out for in those who are potentially affected by them. If you’re not one of those therapists, consider becoming one. 

An Opportunity

This is a great opportunity to be forward-thinking therapists, who are aware the most recent trends in mental health, to offer meaningful value to clients who are suffering these potentially life-threatening illnesses that have been made worse by this pandemic. Individuals can receive counseling as well as nutritional counseling. They may also be able to take medications if necessary. 

Questions to Ask

Is your client suffering from an eating disorder? These are some questions that you can ask to find out if your client has an eating disorder. 

  • Are you concerned about how much you eat 
  • Do you have a 15-pound loss in the last few weeks that you didn’t want? 
  • Have you ever eaten until you’ve gotten sick? 
  • Do you hide how much food you eat from others? 
  • Did you ever feel like throwing up because of how much you ate? 

Get ready to do the work

There’s no doubt we need mental health professionals who can meet the rising needs of people with eating disorders. If you aren’t informed about these topics, there’s no time like the present to learn. 

Are you a therapist looking to learn more about how to diagnose and treat clients suffering from eating disorders? These courses are available to learn more about eating disorders and how to help your clients overcome them and lead healthier lives. 




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