Mental health of individuals with and without eating disorders across six months and two waves of COVID-19
AuthorPhillipou, A; Tan, EJ; Toh, WL; Van Rheenen, TE; Meyer, D; Neill, E; Sumner, P; Rossell, SL
Source TitleEating Behaviors
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsPhillipou, A., Tan, E. J., Toh, W. L., Van Rheenen, T. E., Meyer, D., Neill, E., Sumner, P. & Rossell, S. L. (2021). Mental health of individuals with and without eating disorders across six months and two waves of COVID-19. EATING BEHAVIORS, 43, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2021.101564.
Access StatusAccess this item via the Open Access location
Open Access URLPublished version
Open Access at PMChttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8443406
NHMRC Grant codeNHMRC/1088785
PURPOSE: The COVID-19 global pandemic has resulted in a significant mental health toll, and recent findings suggest that individuals with an eating disorder (ED) history may be particularly vulnerable. The current study aimed to: (1) identify changes in the pattern of mental health symptoms over the first six months of the pandemic between individuals with an ED history, compared to a community sample without an ED history (non-ED); and (2) identify differences in mental health symptoms and concerns between two waves of the virus and associated lockdowns. METHOD: Data from 4915 respondents - 231 with an ED history - were compared across monthly time points from April to September 2020 on psychological symptoms including negative mood, quality of life, coping and hopefulness, as well as changes to eating and exercise behaviours. RESULTS: Mental health symptoms were increased in the ED group, but generally did not differ from non-ED in the pattern of symptoms reported over time. Increased depressive symptoms and restrictive eating behaviours were found across both groups in relation to the second wave/lockdown, as well as decreased hopefulness and quality of life. Respondents in both groups also reported coping worse during the second wave of the virus compared to the first wave. CONCLUSION: Although non-ED and ED groups tended to generally show the same pattern of symptoms, the mental health status of the ED group was significantly poorer than the non-ED group throughout the pandemic, and exacerbations in some symptoms (i.e. increased food restriction and depressive symptoms) is cause for concern.
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