Eating disorders on the rise


The stress and anxiety from the pandemic has triggered a series of eating disorders in the country.

Eating disorders like Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa and overeating have increased in the pandemic because of stress, isolation and the increased usage of internet, say doctors.

According to Dr. Vikram Panwar, a psychiatrist, “The pandemic increased the number of patients with eating disorders by at least 20 percent. The main reasons were loss of routine and inability to cope with an uncertain situation.”

“No doubt there was a subsequent increase in both the cases of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia during the lockdown, almost 50 percent more than what was pre pandemic. Eating disorders are related to anxiety and there was a great increase in the patients of anxiety across the globe,” Manoj Kumar Sharma, a psychotherapist said.

“Anxiety is basically a resistance to whatever is. During the pandemic there was a lot of uncertainty which made people feel helpless and anxious. It causes a lot of movement in the mind which leads to excessive eating as well as feeling guilty about it and throwing up in the case of Bulimia. In Anorexia however a person gives up, so they eat very less. A number of times they don’t eat at all,” Manoj explained. Calling it a hangover of the lockdown, he also said that the increase in the number of patients is still ongoing.

Isha, a clinical nutritionist said, “In the Covid pandemic phase, updates related to the severity of the disease in people with health issues or co morbidities led to people finding their own solutions to deal with the outbreak. Rather than consulting a clinical nutritionist or healthcare professionals, individuals started creating their own diet which for the most part includes skipping meals or reducing their consumption thereby leading to malnourishment and other dietary disorders.”

“I’ve always had issues at home but things got worse as the pandemic hit. Waking up to fights, screams, door bangs and toxic fights every other day made my anxiety issues worse, so much so that I didn’t step out of my room for months. Stepping out of the home to go to college used to keep me sane in more ways than I have been courageous enough to acknowledge,” said a student who was diagnosed with anorexia.

A study shows that unhealthy eating patterns are prevalent among the 35 – 50 age range due to the practice of social distancing and fear of acquiring the disease on meeting someone. It also says that nutrition is very closely linked to human behavior and emotions. Chronic stress can either lead to obesity or anorexia.

Dr. T. S. Ramesh from the India Institute of Public Health believes the government must promote healthy eating and exercise in these uncertain times. “There aren’t enough initiatives taken by the government. The second wave created a fear psychosis among people.” he said.