CDC shows ER visits for eating disorders doubled in girls between ages 12 to 17 during pandemic


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports emergency rooms have seen a surge in the number of teenage girls facing eating disorders and other issues including anxiety, depression and stress during the pandemic.

A new government report shows emergency room visits doubled in girls between 12 and 17 years old and offers persuasive evidence about the kinds of mental health issues plaguing a generation of adolescents.

In the study, researchers says eating disorders can be triggered by pandemic-related risk factors including “lack of structure, emotional distress, and changes in food availability.”

However, the report also indicates an increase seen in tic disorders among teen girls which is said to be “atypical,” but CDC researchers suggest some teen girls may start developing tics after seeing the viral sensation spread on social media. “Stress of the pandemic or exposure to severe tics, highlighted on social media platforms, might be associated with increases in visits with tics and tic-like behavior among adolescent females,” the report says.

READ: See the full report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Eating disorders are often the access point of care for pediatric mental health emergencies according to the report. Declines in mental health condition-related visits during 2020 line up with previous research and with reported declines in the volume of pediatric eating disorder visits during the pandemic.

During 2021 and Jan. 2022, visits for overall MHCs were stable in children and adolescents aged 0-17 years old, but only accounted for a bigger amount of eating disorder visits compared to 2019. The CDC reports there are concerns about eating disorder capacity, and the potential spread of COVID-19 might be a contributing factor to the delay in seeking health care. The report also mentions eating disorder visits related to mental health conditions during the pandemic might midjudge the need and represent more severe presentations than if earlier intervention and treatment were available.

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