How does the coronavirus pandemic affect binge eating?

Beyond the COVID-19 disease, the context of the coronavirus pandemic has led to the emergence of a number of different pathologies, some very different from each other. In fact, many of them do not affect specific organs or cell tissues, but are psychological in nature.

In this regard, several studies show, for example, that psychological sequelae are relatively frequent in people with COVID-19: they can be present in more or less half of the cases.

However, one of the characteristics of the pandemic is that it is not necessary to have been in contact with the virus to experience mental health problems: the context of fear of infection, health restrictions and economic crisis is, on its own, enough to have problems that trigger psychological and psychiatric disorders. In this article, we will focus specifically on the relationship between binge eating and the coronavirus pandemic.

What is binge eating?

Let’s start with the most important: what is binge eating? It is a disease that is part of Eating Behavior Disorders and which, as its name suggests, is characterized by episodes of uncontrolled binge eating, which do not correspond to the actual hunger felt by the person.

Thus, those who develop binge eating disorder develop a dynamic in which, at certain times, they feel the need to immediately eat relatively large amounts of food, which is related to what is called emotional hunger: the person “learns” to alleviate their discomfort through the sensations produced by the act of eating, even though your body doesn’t need these foods and in fact it’s causing you a bigger health problem to the issue that is making him feel bad at the time.

On the other hand, this disorder is not as well known as anorexia and bulimia, pathologies that have been in the media for years and which often attract the attention of all mental health awareness campaigns, which complicates their prevention and treatment. rapid treatment when it appears: Often, people who suffer from it take a long time to identify it as a problem, and sometimes assume that it is part of their habits or their “hobbies”. This may be because it is associated with eating disorders with an over-concern to control what is eaten, and this condition seems to run counter to that logic.

However, if we examine it carefully, we will realize that Binge eating has a lot to do with bulimiaalthough in this case, no purging behavior such as induced vomiting is performed (which avoids significant damage to the skin of the hands and the upper part of the digestive system, but at the same time increases the risk of overweight, while that the risk of malnutrition persists).

The relationship between the pandemic and binge eating

Mental health problems cannot be understood without the economic, social and cultural context in which they occur. They are not only diseases that appear because of an anomaly of a gene, an organ or a cellular tissue due to a pathogenic agent.

In fact, this is partly true of certain medical conditions like COVID-19 (in which the study of behavioral patterns is very important to understand its contagion), but it is even more true when talking about psychological disorders, because they are greatly influenced by the way people experience social relationships, the beliefs they internalize of the society in which they live, the way of life they adopt for fun or to promote their personal development, etc.

In this sense, the coronavirus pandemic has created a context in which alterations such as binge eating can appear relatively easily. Thus, in the time of the coronavirus, elements such as stress and anxiety, generated by the anomaly of what is happening in the world and the dangers it poses to both health and the social and financial situation of people; uncertainty due to lack of information about what will happen in the months and weeks to come; the boredom generated by the lack of activities to do if you can barely go out or if many shops and businesses are closed; and lack of support and supervision from loved ones and loved ones (in the case of those who have spent a long time in quarantine or simply unable or unwilling to reunite with others due to fear of the infection or health restrictions applied to the general population).

This combination of sources of stress and fear, social isolation, and disruption of habits and routines people have become accustomed to, it is relatively easy to abuse the resources available at home, fall into the dynamic of repetitive behaviors, seek immediate feel-good whips that can eventually lead to food addiction, etc. .

In addition, we must not forget that the pandemic causes panic situations in which there are waves of fear of running out of food, which makes it easier for people to spread the “fear” of having to quickly go to buying large amounts of food to keep in the pantry. This great availability of food that can occur in some homes increases its visibility, which facilitates reflection on food in the face of certain types of stress or fear generated by the pandemic.

Are you looking for psychological support?

If you are going through a difficult stage in your life and you are looking for professional psychological help or treatment to overcome certain disorders that affect your mental health, contact us.

In CITA clinics We have a team of professionals in the field of psychotherapy and medicine, and we have a lot of experience in treating problems such as ADD or addiction.

We stand out for giving the possibility both of carrying out outpatient treatment with support for patients and relatives and of carrying out hospital treatment in our fully equipped residential module and located in a privileged space, surrounded by nature and full of individual or directed activity pieces.

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