The pandemic has heightened stress among many Americans, which has only been exacerbated by isolation and lack of frequent social contact. It has been the perfect storm of negative factors for individuals with eating disorders, or those who are in recovery.
“I think in many ways it’s been disastrous,” said Cynthia Bulik, who is the founding director of the UNC Center for Excellence in Eating Disorders, about the pandemic. Bulik co-authored a study published in July analyzing the early effects of the pandemic on people with eating disorders in the U.S. and the Netherlands. The study found the side effects presented by life in lockdown, including “a lack of structure, increased time spent in a triggering environment, lack of social support,” resulted in a worsening of symptoms for individuals with eating disorders and a higher risk of relapse for those in recovery.