Treating & Identifying Eating Disorders

This mental illness skyrocketed during the pandemic. Let’s get on top of it.

Mental health is a topic that deserves its own awareness month, but is certainly a year-long issue. Looking at the pandemic and related lock-downs in 2020 and beyond, there was a spike in mental illness. Specifically depression, anxiety, and eating disorders skyrocketed. Each of these conditions deserves its own vlog, so for today, Cat is joined by Margarita, LCSW and a mental health practitioner in the San Diego area, to talk specifically about eating disorders. 

Who should we be watching out for?

All of us. Once thought to be a “young women’s” issue, eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, over eating) impact all ages, from children to older adults. And both men and women can experience these disorders.

Why the spike in mental health illnesses in 2020?

While already prevalent, the lockdown exacerbated eating disorders. With social media as our main way to connect with others during a lockdown, people obsessed over appearances. We also became hyper-focused on food, possibly as a way to have control in an uncertain time.

What to watch for (in ourselves or our loved ones)?

Pay attention to changes in behavior like:

  • Dressing in baggy or dark clothing
  • Becoming subdued, retreating from conversation
  • Talking much more than normal (to “cover up” eating)
  • Becoming manipulative (to self or others)

When may it be a problem needing help or intervention?

  • Rapid, significant weight loss or gain, with an obsessive level of focus.
  • If eating (or avoiding eating) becomes an obsessive habit. 
  • Emotional eating, where you’re not enjoying the food and are mindless to the point where you don’t really remember the meal. 

What to do if you suspect a problem?

  • Listen to your loved ones. And if you are the concerned loved one, approach without judgement or shame. 
  • Seek professional help. Eating disorders are classified in the DSM-5 as a mental illness, and can also cause serious physical health problems. Help can be found from professionals like:
    • Mental health professionals
    • Eating disorder clinics
    • Registered Dietitians

Can we do anything to reduce the chance of mental illness?

In all areas of mental health, Margarita uses the “Seven aspects to keep you mentally well” which are:

  1. Stress relief
  2. Nutrition
  3. Sleep
  4. Staying connected
  5. Physical activity
  6. Being kind to yourself and to others
  7. Spirituality (in whatever way that is meaningful to you)

So think about yourself – focus on things that make you happy and bring you joy. And you can hit a few of these aspects by checking out a workout or meditation class at Studio SWEAT and Studio SWEAT onDemand!