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Why summer may be the right time to get treatment for an eating disorder

woman walking with a backpack

Summer can be triggering for those who have disordered eating

As the temperature rises in the summer, so can anxiety for those with an eating disorder.

Between holiday cookouts and bathing suits to perfectly curated images of how others are spending their summer flooding your social media, this time of year can be triggering for those struggling with body image and eating concerns.

Typically, there is an increase in high school and college students seeking eating disorder treatment during the early summer months, and this can be a result of several factors. The transition out of the school routine can be stressful, especially if it involves moving back home or to a new environment. The expectations and comparisons that come with the summer months also present challenges, such as feeling insecure about how we look and spend our time. The idea of adding treatment during the summer season can feel daunting.

However, returning to school well on the path to recovery can make all the difference in an individual’s academic and social life. Working on someone’s mental health over the summer while there is a break in rigorous studies, sports, and social calendars can provide stronger foundation for the school year ahead.

Possible eating disorder signs parents should be on the lookout for

Whether you or your child have struggled with an eating disorder for years or have recently noticed problematic thoughts and behaviors creeping in, summer can be a preferrable time to seek support.

For parents who think their high school or college student may be struggling with an eating disorder, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Constant or repetitive dieting
  • Excessive exercise patterns
  • Hiding, hoarding or stealing food
  • Developing rituals surrounding food and mealtimes like excessive chewing or eating in secret
  • Obsession with body weight and shape
  • Withdrawing from family, friends or other social activities
  • Sudden or rapid weight loss, frequent fluctuations in weight
  • Evidence of vomiting or laxative use
  • Depression and anxiety, low self-esteem, moodiness and irritability

If you have noticed changes in yourself or your child, it may be the right time to ask for help.

Reasons to seek treatment during the summer for an eating disorder

The flexibility of summer break can mean less stress around scheduling and time commitments, which is why we typically see an increase in information requests about treatment in May and June.

The end of the school year often brings an increase in inquiries about eating disorder treatment as students return home from school and parents notice behavioral or weight changes that concern them. Summer is also when students typically have their annual check-ups with their doctors, which can bring an eating disorder to the forefront.

Summer is an ideal time to seek treatment without disrupting the school year, so students can return in the fall further on the path to recovery.

It’s important to note that for some, the summer months may be just the right amount of time for treatment, but for others, it may be advised that treatment continues into the school year.

We always encourage a client to utilize the time available to begin their recovery journey, but we never like to place a timeline on care. Recovery is not linear, and there is no guarantee that a summer of treatment will equal a lifetime of recovery and freedom from an eating disorder.

Monte Nido & Affiliates is here for you

Studies show that early intervention is key for eating disorder care, so truly any time is the best time to start your journey toward recovery.

Summer treatment doesn’t look the same for everyone, and if you have questions about treatment options, you are not alone. Monte Nido & Affiliates offers both in-person and virtual treatment for all levels of care across our five distinct brands and is in network with most major insurance companies.

We understand that pursuing recovery is a brave choice during any season, and we want to help.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have an eating disorder, please reach out to us here or by calling 888-228-1253.

Melissa Orshan Spann, PhD, LMHC, RTY 200, is Chief Clinical Officer at Monte Nido & Affiliates, overseeing the clinical operations and programming for over 50 programs across the U.S. Dr. Spann is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and clinical supervisor as well as an accomplished presenter and passionate clinician who has spent her career working in the eating disorder field in higher levels of care. She is a member of the Academy for Eating Disorders and the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals where she serves on the national certification committee, supervision faculty, and is on the board of her local chapter. She received her doctoral degree from Drexel University, master’s degree from the University of Miami, and bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.