Eating Disorders Awareness Week: Increasing body image concerns amongst young adults

10 February 2021 / By Social Media

The year is 2021; nine years have passed since the fifth revision of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) came out. However, the supposed paradigm shift proposed in the manual toward our understanding and perception of mental health disorders seem just as lost. With the heavy criticism and controversy that followed DSM-5, the awareness around many disorders remains shrouded in mystery. One such disorder constitutes the wide realm of “Eating Disorders.”

In a culture wherein gluttony or excessive eating is seen as a sin, it doesn’t come off as a surprise that the latest edition of DSM classified Binge Eating Disorder as “eating excessively at least 1 day a week for 3 months.” The criteria overlook holidays, cultural settings and weekends, where eating ‘excessively’ if often encouraged. But most importantly, the criteria completely negate the psychological turmoil the person going through the actual disorder might experience, focusing solely on the “eating excessively” part of it.

With the COVID-19 pandemic extending well into 2021, the lockdown period has had visible effects on the physical and mental health state of individuals throughout the country. The pandemic-induced psychosocial stressors and stay-at-home orders may exacerbate eating disorder-related triggers. A growing body of evidence is suggesting a significant association between the COVID-19 pandemic and population-level mental health. The study by Nutley et al (2021) suggests that individuals with a lifetime history of disordered eating behavior may be negatively affected by COVID-19-related anxiety, and prevention measures may disrupt daily functioning and limit access to treatment.

Changes in exercise routine, impact of quarantine on daily life, emotional well-being, help-seeking behavior, and associated risks and health outcomes have influenced how individuals, and young adults, in particular perceive themselves. Feelings of isolation, frustration, and anxiety induced by watching others on social media platforms were also very common.

References

1. Nutley, S.K., Falise, A.M., Henderson, R., Apostolou, V., Mathews, C.A., & Striley, C.W. (2021). Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Disordered Eating Behavior: Qualitative Analysis of Social Media Posts. JMIR Mental Health.
2. Shah, M., Sachdeva, M., & Johnston, H., (2020). Eating Disorders in the Age of Covid-19. Psychiatric Research.
3. Management and Outcomes of Binge Eating Disorder.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK338301/table/introduction.t1/

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