Nearly two years into the pandemic, we continue to feel its deep impact on our lives. COVID-19 has changed the way we live, the way we work, and the way we spend our time. It has taken 750,000 lives from us and impacted the physical and mental health of countless more.
This holiday season, Mark Warren, MD, MPH, FAED, Chief Medical Officer of Veritas Collaborative, joins us to reflect on the continued impact of COVID on those with eating disorders and look forward to a year of hope and better health.
The Impact of COVID on Those With Eating Disorders
Emphasizing how hard the pandemic has been on those with eating disorders, Dr. Warren calls attention to the contributing factors. “When the focus of our society, and indeed the world, is a deadly virus it is easy to forget the other ways in which we suffer,” he says. With disrupted routines and increased social isolation, many people found it harder to eat, engage in recovery-minded practices, and avoid disordered eating behaviors. In-person social interaction came to a quick halt for many, and the ability to receive help and support also became much harder. For many with eating disorders, COVID created a perfect storm that allowed the illness to take over thoughts and feelings about food and body. For those around them, it may have been more difficult to recognize warning signs amid all the changes in society.
As COVID took hold of the world, the demand for eating disorder treatment grew higher and higher. More people have developed disordered eating habits for the first time, while many already struggling experienced a worsening of symptoms. There was also an immense pressure to not gain weight during the pandemic, a sign of the diet culture that is incredibly damaging for those with eating disorders. Fortunately, so many people have reached out for help. So many have lent help. It is a demonstration of something we’ve all learned during the pandemic: We are all in this together. While this period is difficult for friends, family, and even healthcare providers, it is important to help take care of each other in times of need.
Hope for the Holiday Season and Beyond
With all this in mind, we come to this holiday season feeling hopeful. Our eating disorder hospitals and centers are consistently looking for more ways to help and expand care to those in need. Even those outside of treatment centers (i.e., communities, family members, past patients, and providers) are looking to help those amid the pandemic. Many have demonstrated love, care, and compassion to those who are struggling. As Dr. Warren reminds us, “Our compassion is high; our openness and willingness to all work together is very strong.”
We also recognize that many may feel conflicted this holiday season. We remember the pain of the last two years and remember all those who have suffered and those still suffering. This holiday season may be the first with family members missing. In addition to the loss of family members due to COVID, many families are supporting someone with an eating disorder. The demand for eating disorder treatment has never been higher. But, Dr. Warren reminds us, “we can see progress. We can see that we did not idly stand by as a society.” As many strive to safely reconnect with others this holiday season, we must do our best to make sure that this compassion follows us into 2022.
We know that the holidays are difficult for people struggling with an eating disorder, and especially difficult after two painful years. But we hope you can safely reconnect and reengage with friends and family and continue to support all those with eating disorders also hoping for better days ahead.
If someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, or if you may be struggling yourself, please call Veritas Collaborative to receive professional treatment. We are committed to offering the best evidence-based care to our patients. We offer all levels of care for children and adolescents, as well as care for adults and family support. Call us today at 855-875-5812.