Eating disorders see dramatic rise, psychologist says social media in a pandemic isn’t helping

Ohio County

Psychologist: Anxiety and social isolation, mixed with image altering 'filters' is creating a disconcerting trend across the country.

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Experts and doctors alike are seeing concerning repercussions from the pandemic – Across the country there’s a dramatic rise in people with eating disorders and one Wheeling psychologist says she is not surprised given what the past year brought.

“Yes, we have seen an increase in eating disorders and even people that are concerned with body image in general.” 

Dr. Trisha Bailey, Licensed Psychologist in Wheeling

Children no longer had their balanced meals provided by the schools. Routine was out the window. Feeling trapped inside, we turn to things to keep us occupied: food being one.

‘Quarantine fifteen.’ And that was something people of all ages were concerned about; gaining weight because of inactivity. Not being able to get out of the house and do things they normally did.

Dr. Trisha Bailey, Licensed Psychologist in Wheeling

Loneliness was answered with a glowing screen filled with beautiful people. 

“When you look at what they were doing to compensate for that,” said Dr. Bailey. “They were on things like TikTok or Instagram.” 

A screen is different than a mirror.  

The feeling of needing to change yourself, mixed with the lack of control a pandemic has wrought, makes an unhealthy concoction. 

Anorexia is the act of restricting calories for the fear of gaining weight. A subtype of anorexia is to binge/purge; where one overeats and then gets rid of the food through laxatives or upchucking. 

The International Journal of Eating Disorders finds an almost 60 percent increase of former patients that relapsed, as well as new patients. 

Awareness might be your wakeup call to unhealthy habits. Dr. Bailey says establish a routine and do not focus on your weight number.

Stay away from the social media ‘filters.’ 

And above all, turn to someone licensed to help. 

“There is no shame in having an eating disorder,” said Dr. Bailey.

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