Many hospital beds are full. Waiting lists for outpatient treatment are bulging. And teens and adults seeking help for eating disorders are often finding it takes months to get an appointment.
The pandemic created treacherous conditions for eating disorders, leading to a surge of new cases and relapses that is not abating as restrictions are loosened and COVID-19 cases subside in many places, doctors and other specialists say.
“We are absolutely seeing massive increases,’’ said Jennifer Wildes, an associate psychiatry professor and director of an outpatient eating disorders program at the University of Chicago Medicine. Some patients are waiting four to five months to get treatment such as psychotherapy and sometimes medication. Waits usually lasted only a few weeks pre-pandemic, Wildes said.
Her program is treating about 100 patients, a near doubling since before the pandemic, she said.
The Emily Program, a University of Minnesota-affiliated eating disorders treatment program, is experiencing the same thing.
Daily calls from people seeking treatment have doubled, from roughly 60 in 2019 to up to 130 since the pandemic began, said dietitian Jillian Lampert, the program’s chief strategy officer.
‘’We know that anxiety and isolation are typically very significant components of eating disorders,’’ she said.
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SOURCE: NBC New York, Lindsey Tanner