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Wiregrass Wellness Center sees uptick in eating disorders

Dr. Chris Strunk said the stress of adapting to the reality of COVID-19 is to blame.
Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 4:36 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - A pandemic can cause stress, having to adapt to a new lifestyle and self-isolate is leading to a surge in people seeking help for eating disorders. The Wiregrass Wellness Center has seen an uptick in eating disorders since the start of the pandemic.

Dr. Chris Strunk, psychiatrist, said they went from one to two phone calls a day regarding the matter, to now receiving about eight to ten.

“There’s two different types of eating disorders in general,” Dr. Strunk said. “There’s binge eating disorders where you tend to overeat or eat too much in one setting and then there’s restrictive eating disorders where you tend to not to eat or diet excessively.”

Dr. Strunk said both of these eating disorders tend to be stress related with the adaption to COVID-19 and the “new norm.”

“The way that we’re eating basically not able to go out with friends, eating more at home, eating larger quantities, and also comfort eating because we are not out and about and doing things that we were normally doing,” Dr. Strunk said.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, during some months of state and national quarantine there have been a 78 percent increase in people seeking help. The most common complaint here in the Wiregrass is weight gain.

Dr. Strunk said it is important to use food the right way, ensuring to not always put the focus on or around food at events. He said he hopes this surge will be at ease soon.

“We just hope that basically people are continuing forward with their vaccinations so that we can get back into a more normal pattern and eliminate some stress and hopefully that will also eliminate some of the issues with eating,” Dr. Strunk said.

Dr. Strunk says counseling and medications are available for treatment.

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