A man puts his head in his hands
Published On: Jul 8, 2020|Categories: Eating Disorder Information, Treatment|

By Crystal Vatza, MSCC, LPC, NCC, BC-TMH
Executive Director, Seeds of Hope at Lake Ariel

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is not over-indulging during the holiday season or consuming a pint of ice cream after your partner breaks up with you — it is a chronic, severe, and diagnosable condition that can be life-threatening. It requires psychiatric and medical monitoring as well as clinical and nutritional support to overcome.

Is there a chance you or a loved one have BED? Keep reading to find out information about symptoms, effects, and more.

What is binge eating disorder?

Binge Eating Disorder is defined by recurrent episodes of eating large amounts of food, often in a short period of time, to the point of feeling discomfort. This over-eating behavior occurs at least once weekly for three months or longer. Commonly, this is coupled with feeling a loss of control during the binge in addition to emotions like guilt, shame, or embarrassment.

This condition is the most common eating disorder in the United States. In fact, binge eating is three times more common than anorexia and bulimia.

Binge eating disorder vs. Bulimia

BED differs from another commonly known eating disorder, bulimia nervosa. Someone who struggles with binge eating disorder does not engage in compensatory behaviors (purging, laxative/diuretic use, excessive exercise, etc.) as a countermeasure to the binge episode, whereas those struggling with bulimia will more likely do so.

What Are the Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder?

You might notice these symptoms in someone struggling with BED:

  • Excessive focus on weight, body size or shape, which might include touching areas of the body, looking in the mirror frequently or weight cycling (significant increases or decreases in weight);
  • Participation in the newest fad diet;
  • Fear of eating around others, which may result in isolation from family and friends;
  • Hiding food;
  • Creating schedules to incorporate a binge eating episode into the routine;
  • Large amounts of food disappearing or excessive spending on food that perhaps was not originally budgeted for;
  • Gastrointestinal upset.

This is not an all-inclusive list, but it can be a good starting point for reflection and identification for yourself or your loved one.

See More BED Symptoms

What are some of the risk factors?

BED manifests for various reasons from genetics to trauma. It affects women more than men, though no gender or non-gender is exempt from the illness.

It is, however, often found with other mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. And most commonly, it corresponds with low or poor body image.

What are the effects of binge eating disorder?

Left untreated, a binge eating disorder can be devastating for an individual’s physical health, with effects such as:

  • Obesity and weight gain;
  • Increased risk for high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke;
  • Negative effect on sleep;
  • Stomach cramps;
  • Difficulty concentrating.

BED impacts more than just the person who is struggling with the illness. It is difficult to watch someone you care about suffer from any condition, and BED is no different. An individual struggling with this disorder may isolate themselves, spend large amounts of money on food, or steal and eat others’ food without their permission. For family and friends, this can trigger emotional tension, as well as financial or physical turmoil.

How is binge eating disorder treated?

There are multiple approaches to treating someone with BED, including:

  • Psychopharmacology (medication therapy);
  • Weight loss therapy;
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy;
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT);
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

At Seeds of Hope, we primarily use ACT, CBT, and DBT, with some psychopharmacology as appropriate. Interpersonal therapy and other types of therapy are also used as indicated for the individual who needs help.

We believe in guiding patients to reconnect with themselves and relearn who they are without the eating disorder. We help patients to accept and love themselves as they develop replacement coping skills while working through the root of what caused the eating disorder in the first place. While this process takes dedication, support and professional help, recovery is possible with the right treatment plan.

If you or a loved one are seeking additional information about this topic or are ready to take the first step to recovery and get Binge eating disorder treatment, Seeds of Hope can help. Call 610-644-6464 or leave us a message on our website.

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