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Pandemic linked to rise in eating disorders for both teens and adults

A northwest Ohio nurse practitioner said feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation are components of eating disorders.

TOLEDO, Ohio — It's a concerning trend during the pandemic, as experts say there's been a sharp rise in eating disorders in both teens and adults.

Ehden Iachini, a nurse practitioner with ProMedica Physicians Adult Medicine, says feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation are components of eating disorders. 

Many have felt those feelings more strongly than ever during the pandemic.

"While many people may be turning to these types of behaviors such as binge eating and food for comfort during this difficult time, others might be doing exactly the opposite and following more of a restrictive diet in the fear of gaining weight," said Iachini.

Both men and women are affected by eating disorders, however it is more prevalent in women. 

Iachini explains signs you can look out for if there are concerns you or someone you know may have an eating disorder.

"Having guilt over eating regular meals. Eating too much just to cope with their emotions or simply not wanting to go to a social gathering with family and friends because of the fear food might be present," said Iachini.

An added complication is that teens and adults looking for help for eating disorders are often finding it takes months to get an appointment.

Iachini says you can reach out to your primary care doctor or psychiatrist for help.

"Referrals to psychiatry, mental health counseling or even resources in the community such as support groups because we do know that mental health illness untreated has long term, serious effects," said Iachini.

If you are in immediate need for help with any form of eating disorder, or mental health concern, you can contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness for assistance. 

The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org

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