It makes a very clear claim. According to Lydie Thiery, president of End-TCA, the Aid Establishment eating disorders, “Since the health crisis linked to the coronavirus, there has been a 30% increase in requests for consultation for eating disorders (TCA)” (anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating). There has been an increase, which these diseases expert psychologist Isabelle Siac also notices in her office: “There was a boom at the conclusion of the first confinement, but the explosion was actually with the unending semi-confinement in the fall. 2021.”
Unsurprisingly, the two specialists claim that the occurrence is most prevalent in those between the ages of 15 and 30. Professor Nathalie Godart, vice-president of the TCA Ile-de-France network and president of the French Federation of anorexia bulimia, notes that the peak age of initiation of these illnesses is between adolescence and the start of adulthood (FFAB). But also because social connections are crucial during adolescence, when one develops their sense of self in relation to others, especially in the years before starting a family.
“Limited in freedom, they made up for it with food”
If stress brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic-related health crises is one of the triggers for eating disorders, imprisonment is still the biggest offender. A blow that is constrained, unconstrained, semi-constrained, under curfew, etc. This has significantly affected the daily lives of young people, says Isabelle Siac, author of Such a crucial sense of uncertainty Others struggled, while some were able to adjust and establish a new rhythm. The psychologist mentions distant aperitifs, ordering prepared meals far too frequently, or even “young people who have seen their dietary balance upset by returning to their family.”
As a result, those who already had an ED may have had their symptoms get worse, and those who just had a little bit of a problem with food developed these diagnosable diseases.
Regarding incidents of binge eating, Lydie Thiery explains, “Deprived of freedom or social bonds, they decompensated on food, the last activator of pleasure to which they had access.” Instead, a lack of structure, routines, and boundaries leads to anorexia and bulimia disorders. “Some people began consuming foods they had never before. One of my patients ate ice cream first thing in the morning,” is an example of a patient whose association Endat-TCA released a list of 100 Questions and Answers on binge eating disorder.
Accordingly, Lydie Thiery suggests that the drive to reclaim control, particularly over one’s body through food, may have been the root cause of the eating disorders.
Care breakdown and overburdened teams
Good patient care was also hindered by the confinements. According to Lydie Thiery, the travel ban made it difficult, even with video consultations, to provide follow-up care for those who had previously experienced TCA. Additionally, patients with eating disorders were unable to get treatment at an early stage. “The services are currently dealing with a very noticeable surge in assistance inquiries.
Both the number of patients and the severity of the illnesses are rising, according to Nathalie Godart. Psychologist Isabelle Siac claims to witness more and more extreme instances of anorexia and bulimia “with patients who make themselves vomit up to five times a day”.
The care teams are overburdened since these circumstances call for more personnel, time, and assistance. “As a result, ED sufferers have a hard time finding care, and things are becoming worse for them. The professor bemoans the terrible cycle.
Snacking when working from home
Could the situation have been resolved if the confinement had ended? Telework, which is common in many businesses, was not taken into account. Lydie Thierry observes that “employees take their lunch break whenever they choose and eat in front of their computers on autopilot.” They lose touch with the feelings of hunger, satiety, and fullness. Snacking results from this.
President of the FFAB Nathalie Godart reminds people that they can always turn to their physicians, pediatricians, child psychiatrists, or even the Anorexia & Bulimia Info Listening Hotline at 0810 037 037. On Thursday, World Eating Disorders Day, rights advocate Claire Hédon urged Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne to implement an emergency plan for young people’s mental health.