Pandemic, Social Media Have Negative Impact on Adolescents Who Have Eating Disorders

Chicago, April 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The pandemic has undoubtedly been tough on adolescents, and now there is data showing the actual impact.

The major findings: The past two years have had a devastating effect on adolescent girls who have eating disorders, and an increased amount of screen time from social media platforms left them at a higher risk for developing other mental health concerns.

“Adolescents and teenagers are more connected than ever, but we have seen that more screen time leads to more feelings of isolation, opportunities for cyberbullying, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders,” said Kirsten Muller-Daubermann, community relations specialist at Timberline Knolls and founder of the Kirsten Haglund Foundation. “The constant flow of social media that presents idealized images of bodies and social lives only leads to feelings of low self-worth and comparison with perfectly curated highlight reels. Our young people are bombarded by false images of reality, and the pandemic worsened this.”

There are reports of rising rates of suicide, depression, and eating disorders among adolescents due to social media use. There are also indications that social media platforms are doing their own internal research because they are aware that these outlets can cause harm to teens.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that emergency room visits doubled from 2019 to 2020 for adolescent girls ages 12-17 who are suffering from eating disorders.

Everything became uncertain in the early days of the pandemic, and lockdown measures lasted longer than anyone imagined. For adolescent girls, that meant missing major life milestones and the everyday camaraderie of friends. To fill that gap, many turned to social media, where they were inundated with troubling messages about dieting and body image.

Given these findings, it’s important to identify warning signs that a teen may be struggling with an eating disorder so that they can pursue professional help before there’s a crisis. Though each eating disorder has different symptoms, these are some common signs:

  • Obsession with weight, body shape, and/or dieting
  • Refusal to eat certain foods or restriction of foods
  • Uncomfortable around people
  • Weight fluctuating drastically, either up or down
  • Unusually unpredictable or intense moods
  • Spending less time with friends or family or stopping altogether
  • Struggling to get quality sleep
  • Dressing in baggy clothing or layers

 “As a society, we need to be aware and work to help improve social media literacy, and point our young people to resources so that they can get the support they crave and deserve,” Muller-Daubermann said.

About Timberline Knolls
Located just outside of Chicago, Timberline Knolls is a leading residential treatment center for women and adolescent girls age 12 and older who are struggling with eating disorders, substance use, trauma, mood disorders, and co-occurring disorders. Residents receive excellent clinical care from a highly trained professional staff on a picturesque, 43-acre, wooded campus. An adult partial hospitalization program (PHP) with supportive housing is also available nearby for women to step down or direct admit. For more information, call (877) 257-9611 or visit We are also on Facebook – Timberline Knolls, LinkedIn – Timberline Knolls, and Twitter – @TimberlineToday.

About Kirsten Muller-Daubermann (Haglund)

Kirsten Muller-Daubermann is an international speaker, mental health advocate, and digital media and marketing consultant. She is a community relations specialist for Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, hosts online video content, and is the founder of the Kirsten Haglund Foundation, which provides support for those who are in recovery from eating disorders. Her op-eds on politics, culture, and nonprofit advocacy have appeared in the New York Daily News,, HuffPost, and industry journals. She served as Miss America 2008 and a Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Muller-Daubermann graduated from Emory University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and is currently based in Zürich, Switzerland.



Kirsten Muller-Daubermann (Haglund)

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