Delaware County Medical Society Summer/Fall 2020 - 21

T

develop in adults; the pandemic response has also sparked
relapses in many who have been in recovery from their
disorders.

eens are especially vulnerable to cultural and
peer messages, as evidenced by the high rates
of disordered eating and body image issues
within this age bracket. If you compound the
already present pressure to look and act a certain way
during adolescence with increased messaging about
what we "should" and "should not" be doing with
our bodies during stay-at-home orders, teens have an
increased chance to develop unhealthy thoughts and
patterns around food and exercise during this time. These
messages can come from a variety of sources, including
peers, social media, and beliefs about food and bodies
in their home environments. With less distractions and
support due to ongoing social distancing measures,
along with increased stress related to the state of the
world, dysfunctional eating patterns have more of an
ability to grow and become major coping mechanisms.

Eating disorders are the most lethal of all mental illnesses
and they are very difficult to treat. Prevention and early
detection of subtle shifts in behavior and thinking have
the best outcomes. Knowing what to look for and asking
patients a few questions about their thoughts about their
bodies and eating habits can save lives.

So, how to recognize the signs that
someone is struggling with disordered
eating?
First, as a general rule, if a patient or family member
has elevated concerns about the possibility of an eating
disorder, take them seriously. Seeds of Hope clinical
coordinator Michelle Hilton, LPC, puts it this way, "I tell
people if you think it might be you, it almost definitely
IS you." Signs of disordered eating and body image issues
include: skipping meals consistently, trips to the bathroom
for longer periods of time after meals, hoarding food,

It is important to note that the ubiquitous social focus alone
can be enough to trigger an eating disorder. When there are
no counterbalancing messages and alternative emotional
supports are not available, adolescents and children can
feel extremely isolated and take comfort in controlling their
eating in inappropriate ways. New eating disorders can also

continued on next page

Leif-Erik
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P. Tim
Boulos, M.D.

Matthew J.
Eppley, M.D.

Tony
Maidoh, M.D.

Pawan
Rastogi, M.D.

Pulak
Ray, M.D.

Michael G.
Kennedy
Sugarman, M.D. Yalamanchili, M.D.

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Delaware County Medical Society Summer/Fall 2020

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