Extra support required by those living with eating disorders during COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the nation, Australian eating disorders support services are seeing a significant increase in people reaching out to their helplines.

Social isolation, coupled with food and supply shortages and disruption to daily routines, can significantly impact people living with eating disorders, and those most at risk.

In an article just published by ABC News, EDGI Australia spokesperson and Eating Disorders Recovery Coach at EndED Australia, Mille Thomas, Sunshine Coast, explains why those living with an eating disorder may require additional support during this unprecedented time. She further reinforces the negative impact social media can have on those most at risk.

As a result of COVID-19, social media is seeing an increasing plethora of home workout tips and diet trends.

“I can’t believe that in a pandemic — a global crisis — we have people focusing on whether we are going to gain weight at the end of it.

“When you’ve got all that pressure from mainstream and social media, the scene is set for an eating disorder to manifest,” Millie Thomas told ABC News.

Experts are encouraging people to switch off from social media given it is currently fuelling anxiety and depression, which can propel disordered eating behaviours and thinking. Instead, they are encouraging breathing and mindfulness activities to manage stress and participation in mood-lifting activities, such as listening to music or drawing.

Eating disorders are commonly linked to other co-occurring health conditions, including depression, anxiety (especially social anxiety disorder) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). According to Ms Thomas, given eating disorders thrive on isolation, this presents a huge concern for those living with an eating disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic.

EndED has reported a 30 per cent increase in calls to its helpline and chat service since the COVID-19 restrictions came into effect in Australia.

The Inside Out Institute for Eating Disorders has published advice for those living with eating disorders and their loved ones during COVID-19  here.

Should you suspect that you, or a loved one, may be living with an eating disorder, speak to your local healthcare professional without delay, or head to www.insideoutinstitute.org.au to complete their screener and assessment, and to access more information and professional support.

Australian professional patient support services offering 24/7 helpline services include:

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