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Pandemic Could Trigger Eating Disorders in the Susceptible

May 5, 2020
Spectrum News San Antonio
Spectrum News in San Antonio talks to Clinical Director Landry Weatherston-Yarborough and ERC Recovery Ambassador Council member Eric Dorsa about coping with an eating disorder during the pandemic. They both offer hope and recommend ways to find connection and support from home. (Video)

SAN ANTONIO - It's easy to feel alone during these times of social distancing. That feeling can be especially tough on those going through treatment or recovering from an eating disorder.

What You Need To Know

  • One man says treatment is helping him cope with pandemic

  • Health officials say pandemic could trigger eating disorder symptoms

  • Help is available for those that may be suffering

"I feel recovery has set me up in a way for a time like this," said San Antonio resident Eric Dorsa.

The lessons learned in treatment have kept Dorsa, a former eating disorder patient, on the path of recovery. He says kindness and acceptance helped him overcome his disorder, which he was diagnosed with at age 11.

"It took me three times in treatment centers to really believe and trust in myself and to learn the eating disorder was a coping mechanism," Dorsa said.

Trusting in himself is now playing a big part in Dorsa's daily recovery, which for many like himself, has been tested during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Having to quarantine or isolate will trigger that fight-or-flight response in me. My brain and body will just quickly want to grab to what is familiar," he said.

A clinical director at The Eating Recovery Center of San Antonio, Landry Weatherston-Yarborough says there are many triggers tied with the pandemic that could cause someone to relapse.

"I think a big one is the food scarcity and the panic around the grocery stores," said Weatherston-Yarborough.

Empty shelves and panic buying can be anxiety provoking, leading those to restrict food intake, binge eat, or purge. She suggests anyone who feels they may need help to seek it out.

"I want people to know that there is help available in this time of quarantine and social distancing," she said.

Visits with professionals can be done in-person at the center or virtually through telemedicine.

"There are so many free resources right now. I feel like the mental health community has really stepped up and is trying its best to fulfill a need. There is a lot of support groups and all the 12-step recovery meetings have moved online," he said.

If you need help, the Eating Recovery Center of San Antonio has resources available online or by phone at (210) 826-7447. 

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