COVID-19 and Eating Disorders

If you have ever struggled with eating related issues, you are not alone. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States struggle with an eating disorder. In fact, according to the National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Other Related Disorders (ANAD), every 62 minutes, someone dies from an eating disorder, giving eating disorders the highest mortality rate of all the mental health issues. Eating disorders affect people of every age, race, and gender and are often related to other mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.

The current pandemic in our society is greatly affecting those with eating disorders. For those with anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder characterized by strictly limiting one’s caloric intake so that one does not gain weight or “become fat,” the social distancing and social isolation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the struggle for many that suffer from this disorder. Anorexia nervosa is an extremely secretive issue for many that thrives in times of isolation. As people have been forced to stay home and by themselves, many with anorexia nervosa have become hyper focused on their caloric intake as well as over exercising. Furthermore, those who struggle with anorexia nervosa often do so out of their need for control. As our world feels totally out of control right now, many turn to food as something they can control during this time. All of this is feeding the struggle for those who suffer with this type of eating disorder.

For those with binge eating disorder, an opposite issue is taking place. Those who suffer from binge eating disorder eat more than an average person would eat in a short amount of time. After the episode, these individuals are left feeling guilty and depressed. Once again, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected those with this type of disorder. People have stocked up on food and are often at home all day with a pantry with endless quantities of food options. For those with binge eating disorder, raiding the pantry for food and snacks is a huge temptation that they are often unable to resist. Then they are left feeling guilty and depressed about their choice, fueling this cycle of struggle.

There are many in our society who suffer from other eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa, rumination disorder, and body dysmorphic disorder. These individuals are also struggling due to the stress and anxiety caused by the uncertain times we are living in. Our city of Savannah has seen an increase in eating disorders since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among college students in our area. College students often deal with higher levels of stress and anxiety than the general population, making them a prime target for eating disorders.

At Water’s Edge Counseling, our own Lisa Clark, LPC, works with clients who struggle with eating disorders. She has helped numerous clients in our area to work through their issues and break free from the eating strongholds that are controlling their lives. Lisa was recently interviewed on WSAV news regarding this increase in eating disorders. To watch her interview, click here. As always, please give our therapists a call at 912-319-5552. We want to help you live a life of freedom and restoration.