The pandemic has exacerbated eating disorders

Around 400,000 people in Spain suffer silent and sometimes imperceptible disorders every day, difficult to detect and even more difficult to treat. Anorexia and bulimia are the best known, but there are also diseases such as binge eating disorder or vigorexia. They mostly affect young girls. Today, International Day for the Fight Against Eating Disorder (ACT), his condition comes to light, a neurological and sociocultural symbiosis that has been aggravated during the pandemic.

Andrea Barrios it is doctor in psychology and specialist in eating disorders. As he explains, the number of cases and admissions has doubled and even tripled in some autonomous communities. “If a girl could lose a certain number of kilos in six months, in the three months of confinement she would lose twice as much. Your 24-hour life was the symptom and, in fact, what people applauded was having a healthy life. “

If a girl could lose a certain number of kilos in six months, in the three months of confinement she would lose twice as much

Social networks: a dangerous mirror in which to look at yourself

Begoña She is 23 years old and has been diagnosed since she was 16. During her confinement, sports and eating disorders were her refuge. “At that time when they let you go down to the street, I would go running to get tired and go home exhausted.” Nor did the massive use of social networks that we engaged in during those months help. “If you consume diet and sports culture, the algorithms return it to you multiplied and that content feeds you back and returns you to ADD,” he explains.

“Many adolescents have focused on social networks, where they have been able to access diets. There was also a lot of insistence from the media, especially in the hardest period of confinement, with which we had to maintain the exercise “, he explains Beatriz Martínez, psychiatrist at the Niño Jesús University Children’s Hospital in Madrid, where they have perceived an increase in both the number of cases and their severity.

For Martinez, the pandemic has been a perfect breeding ground for risk factors for eating disorders. To the isolation, he adds the greater stress of the families due to teleworking, which in some cases could delay the diagnosis. “At the medical level, we have focused on COVID, primary care has been overwhelmed and it has been difficult to access treatments,” he adds. “There has been more isolation and from when you realize it until you find the site, months go by. With the pandemic, it has been even longer ”.

On a medical level, we have focused on COVID, primary care has been overwhelmed and it has been difficult to access treatments

A family journey

To the 400,000 people who suffer from an eating disorder in Spain, we must add the figure of relatives, which are key in detection and recovery.

Oscar Santiago is a member of the Association for the Defense of Attention to Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia (ADANER). When her daughter was 19 years old, some friends warned her that something was wrong. She had anorexia until she was 26. “When a disorder of this type enters the house, it is an explosion. Everything is very confusing, especially for her, but for those of us who accompany her as well, ”she says.

During the initial fear and ignorance, Óscar speaks of the need to seek help and support and, above all, of the importance of becoming aware of what an eating disorder is. “Socially it is very stigmatized. We families believe that it may be silly, but all this history of fashion, of diets … So there is a point where we do not distinguish if it is a mental disorder or a nutritional or physical disorder. And that is a very important point ”.

Sandra He is 23 years old and has been fighting TCAs for eight years. Next to him is Susana, his mother, who used to go to family therapy. “You feel a lot of fear and a lot of guilt if it could have been you, if you have done something wrong. And in the end you have to remove that guilt because all you do is block yourself ”.

You feel a lot of fear and a lot of guilt in case it could have been you, in case you have done something wrong

A road full of ups and downs

After observing strange behaviors in her daughter, Susana searched the internet for the word anorexia and that was where it all began. After two years treating with a psychologist, Sandra felt fine and decided to leave her. However, it soon relapsed, this time, in the form of bulimia. “I ate very well. Nobody realized that it was wrong, but everything he ate he vomited. I had autolytic thoughts and started with self-harm. I told my parents that I wanted to die ”.

RNE’s mornings with Íñigo Alfonso – Pandemic and eating disorders, a perfect storm – Listen now

After returning to therapy, he had to enter a center for four months. For Sandra, it was a before and after, since it was there that she was convinced that she had to get out of it. “It is very difficult not to have ups and downs, but you always have to be reminding yourself how you have been and how you do not want to be again. And not only for you, but also for the people around you “.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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