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Health & Medicine

Eating Disorder Is A Mental Illness Made Worse By Pandemic

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A Portland doctor says stress and isolation caused by the pandemic have been attributed to a surge in people seeking help for eating disorders.

Specialists say for someone struggling with an eating disorder, these are dangerous times. COVID-19 has caused disruptions in daily life and forced us to physically distance ourselves from support systems.

The National Eating Disorders Association reports steep increases in calls and online chats, up to 78% more in some months, compared to a year ago.

Dr. Melissa Spann is with Monte Nido Eating Disorders Center of Portland.

“People who struggle with Anorexia nervosa, which has the hallmark of restriction, have become more restricted,” she said. “And people who struggle with binge-eating disorder and Bulimia have actually engaged in more bingeing.”

Warning signs of an eating disorder are pre-occupation with weight, body checking, skipping meals or refusing to eat entire food groups.  Spann said it’s important to remember an eating disorder is a mental illness and with treatment, people often fully recover.

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People who struggle with binge-eating disorder and Bulimia have engaged in more bingeing under the stress and anxiety caused by quarantines during the pandemic.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder or know someone who is, the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline is 1-800-931-2237

TO HEAR MORE, CLICK AUDIO FILE BELOW FOR EXTENDED INTERVIEW 

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Dr. Melissa Spann is Chief Medical Officer with Monte Niro & Affiliates, operating Eating Disorder Treatment Center in Eugene and a newly opened treatment center in Portland. Dr. Spann describes what an eating disorder really is, talks about the different types of eating disorders and how they are often exhibited. She explains the symptoms of this mental illness and suggests ways to help a loved one (including yourself!) If you are suffering and need to talk to someone: National Eating Disorders Association Helpline: 1-800-931-2237 Admissions Department line for Monte Niro & Associates Eating Disorders Treatment Center: 888-228-1253

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