HealthONE - February 23, 2021
by Dr. Patricia Westmoreland

Eating disorders are serious psychiatric illnesses often accompanied by medical problems. Aside from deaths due to opiate use, anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. Recognizing the presence of an eating disorder and engaging in specialized care early in the course of an eating disorder is critical to ensuring the best chance of recovery.

Weight restoration is also crucial to recovery but should be done under the care of eating disorder treatment professionals - ideally, a team consisting of a psychiatrist, primary care physician, dietician, and therapist.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially challenging for individuals with eating disorders as these are illnesses that thrive in individuals who are isolated and alone. However, specialized treatment centers remain dedicated to treating patients in person either on 24-hour care units or in a partial hospital setting. The development of virtual programs has also broadened the availability of treatment to those in need.