Given the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to understand how those with eating disorders (EDs) are affected by the pandemic. Using data from the Understanding America Study (UAS), we examined the association between EDs and mental health and how the relationship changed over time across the months following the institution of virus containment procedures (e.g., social distancing, quarantine). Method: The analytic sample consisted of 7137 adults (Mage =50.58 years; SD =16.10) who completed surveys between waves 1-11 of the UAS study. Participants self-reported ED diagnosis (i.e., yes, no, or unsure) and completed self-report measures of psychological distress, perceived stress, and loneliness. Multilevel models were used to compare trajectories of psychological distress, perceived stress, and loneliness among ED groups. Results: Individuals with EDs and unsure EDs had higher levels of psychological distress, perceived stress and loneliness compared to those without EDs. Those unsure about their EDs showed initial decreases in perceived stress and loneliness, but started increasing again after some time. Levels of loneliness among those with EDs increased initially but later began to decrease; individuals with EDs showed steady decreases in perceived stress. Limitations: Type, severity, and duration of EDs were unspecified in the self-reported measure of EDs, which could differentiate the trajectories of outcomes. Conclusions: Intervention is crucial for mitigating mental health problems among those with ED symptoms during COVID-19. Further, results showed that individuals who are unsure about their ED status may be experiencing more fluctuation in mental health across the pandemic.

Fuente: Journal of Affective Disorders Reports