Coronavirus and Eating Disorders

Coronavirus and Eating Disorders

The coronavirus pandemic has created medical hospitalizations and death since its start around 1.5 years ago. Now that there is a vaccine and the CDC has removed the restrictions, another crisis has emerged. This plight is the mental health of all people around the world. People have been quarantined and isolated for months. Family and friends have been ill or have died. Unemployment, suicide, depression, stress, anxiety, addiction and domestic violence have all been on the rise. Mental health centers and substance use disorder clinics are filled to capacity. Therapists are burning out.

Across the globe, eating disorders affect approximately nine percent of the population. The USA reports an estimate of thirty million people will have an eating disorder problem. (Tanner, p. 3). Currently there is also a surge of relapses and new cases of eating disorders. These illnessnes can be lethal if not treated. According to Lindsay Tanner (Associated Press), some people have to wait 4 – 5 months for an appointment with a therapist or a psychiatrist for medication. Previously, one had only a few weeks to wait.

Some of the factors consistent with the development of an eating disorder are anxiety and isolation. Those who were quarantined for months are likely to have these symptoms. People may binge eat in order to cope with depression, grief or boredom People who have bulimia may self induce vomiting after eating in attempt to avoid weight gain. Others who undereat may increase restricting behavior in order to manage the difficult emotions. This may manifest into anorexia nervosa. These illnesses happen to all kinds of people including all races, adults, teens, and those of the LGBTQ community. Women and girls have higher rates of eating disorders than males.

Here are some disturbing statistics from The Journal of Psychiatry. The total annual mortality rate derived from females that have anorexia nervosa is twelve times greater than the annual death rate due to all causes of death for females ages 15 –24. In addition, the females of ages 15 –24 with anorexia die at a rate of two hundred times greater than the suicide rate of the whole general population (152: 7 July 1995, p. 1074).

When looking for a therapist to help someone with an eating disorder, many factors should be considered. Sheila Owen LCSW, LADC has experience and training in the treatment of both binge eating and anorexia nervosa. She has an understanding that anxiety and perfectionism are common traits of those with anorexia. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective
treatment for decreasing perfectionism behavior. It helps a person change thinking patterns and then in turn, change the way they feel and act. For example, CBT will assist someone with the idea of being perfect. A person will become more comfortable with making a mistake. CBT and DBT also help with thinking issues concerning gaining weight.

Sheila will build a therapeutic alliance with her client which is essential. It is recommended that the client have a multidisciplinary team approach. Sheila coordinates care with doctors, primary care and psychiatrists in order to have the best outcome. With anorexia, goals other than weight gain will be set. Sheila uses Motivational Interviewing in order to tolerate ambivalence in change with her clients.

In closing, relapse and the development of eating disorders have drastically increased since the beginning of the pandemic. PeachTree Counseling and Sheila Owen, LCSW will treat your anorexia, bulimia or binge eating. You will get better and get into recovery.


Title: Anorexia Nervosa and Eating Disorders

“Massive” surge in eating disorders

Linsey Tanner Associated Press guid=c1fb03ae-f36a-4261-9be0-4fc5c2f99476