COVID-19 Causes Spike in Mental Health Issues and Eating Disorders


A women wearing a mask looks to the side. Licensed for Creative Commons.

COVID-19 was declared a national pandemic by the World Health Organization in March of 2020. This caused many people to retreat to their homes with arms full of necessities, such as toilet paper, canned goods and hand sanitizer.

Many people have been self-isolating in their homes, leaving them with more free time than they often know what to do with. Puzzles, DIY projects and video-chatting are just a few of the many solutions that have been discovered to fend off boredom and have fun.

However, there is another side to the pandemic that looks much different.

Many have spent long months inside with little human interaction. This brings stress about income, health, and education which causes major problems for people all over the world.

These stressors have taken a toll on the world’s mental, physical and emotional health, causing a dramatic spike in suicides, mental health issues and ED (eating disorders).

According to a research article published by BioMed Central, “Most participants (83.1%) reported worsening ED symptomatology… during the pandemic.”

A graph compares the differences in mental health issues before and during the pandemic. Licensed for reuse by Creative Commons.

The article goes on to explain the main reason for the major spike in ED. Many of the issues occur due to fewer strategies in maintaining emotional regulation, lower acceptance of emotions, and a hard time seeing emotions clearly.

The dramatic change in everyday routine could have shifted their perceived normal and caused a need for control displaying itself in control over food.

Koren Jones, a pediatric nurse at the Children’s Hospital, has some insight into these problems.

“We are a community…We form bonds and connections, it’s part of our development… If you don’t form this attachment…you will have problems your whole life [you are] more likely for substance abuse, ED, and depression [and] we are [all] suffering from that lack of connection now,” Jones explained.

Similar causes for mental issues appear.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report on the rise in mental health issues around the world.

“Overall, 40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition…related to the pandemic”  the CDC explained. “Elevated levels of adverse mental health condition, substance use, and suicidal ideation were reported by adults in the United States in June 2020.”

Another article by the CDC explained that in efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, people have been isolating themselves.  This causes feelings of loneliness, stress and anxiety. These feelings have been the biggest reason for the above symptoms.

With the pandemic dragging on, mental issues can seem harder to deal with. As mentioned above, one of the biggest contributors in recent mental health issues is isolation and lack of connection.

“We need to notice those around us. Have you not heard from a friend lately?” Jones added. “Remind them they are loved. Try…’Hey, you’ve been on my mind. I miss/love you.’ Sometimes that’s all it takes, a 10-second text can change so much.”

If you are experiencing any suicidal thoughts, or any other symptoms relating to mental health please contact one of the sources below.

Symptoms of depression:

  • anxiety,
  • trouble concentrating,
  • persistent sadness,
  • restlessness
  • Irritability

Symptoms of an ED:

  • fatigue
  • extreme consumption of food
  • extreme lack of consumption of food,
  • major weight loss/weight gain)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call or Text “TALK” to 1- 800-273-8255

National Eating Disorder Helpline: 1-800-931-2237

Text “BRAVE” to 741741

National Alliance on Mental Illness: 1-800-950-6264