Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge-eating disorder is a serious eating disorder where one frequently consumes unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating. The excessive overeating feels out of control.

Prevalence

Binge-eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in adults, affecting approximately 1 to 3% of the general population. Despite this fact, BED tends to receive far less media attention compared to other eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. The rates of BED are comparable among males and females.

Binge Eating vs Bulimia Nervosa

Unlike bulimia nervosa, the binge-eating episode in BED is not associated with efforts to prevent weight gain such as purging, excessive fitness programs, or the use of laxatives. People who are diagnosed with bulimia nervosa and BED demonstrate similar patterns of compulsive overeating, dysfunctional cognitive control, food addiction, and other risk factors.

Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder:

Some people with binge-eating disorder maintain a normal weight, but it is more common for individuals to be overweight.

Binge eating is characterized by the repeated presence of 3 or more of the following:

  • Consuming a disproportionately large amount of food during a distinct period of time, such as two hours
  • Lack of a sense of control during the episode – an inability to control what or how much one is eating
  • Eating much more rapidly and insatiably compared to others – eating until uncomfortably full and consuming large quantities of food, despite not feeling physically hungry
  • Often eating in isolation out of embarrassment
  • Feeling disgusted, depressed, and guilty after a binge-eating episode
  • Episodes generally occur weekly during a period of 3 months
  • Binge eating does not normally include ongoing use of other behaviors associated with bulimia like purging
  • Engaging in frequent dieting, even though not always losing weight
  • Episodes are often accompanied with actions or behaviors to keep it a secret
  • Creating a personal food stash of snacks around the house

The frequency of weekly binge-eating episodes is how the severity of a case is determined, but anyone with symptoms should see a doctor at their earliest convenience to get the condition under control and prevent further complications.

Due to the fact that it is common for the individual to experience shame because of their episodes, and because they are likely to be secretive about the condition, it is often challenging to spot or diagnose BED unless the person approaches a medical professional for help or presents with a related mental disorder resulting from the condition.

Causes of Binge Eating Disorder:

The precise cause of binge-eating disorder remains unknown, but the most significant contributors are cognitive and/or emotional. A person’s state of mind, their thought processes, and their emotional health have all been shown to have a direct impact on their actions. For some, this makes them susceptible to episodes of binge eating if experiencing low self-esteem, depression, or anxiety.

Other contributing factors include:

  • Age
  • Biological makeup
  • Genetic makeup
  • Gender
  • Family history
  • Trauma
  • Mental health disorders
  • Propensity to diet

Binge Eating Disorder complications:

Complications from binge-eating disorder can be severely damaging physically, mentally, and socially. Some of these complications are:

  • Cardiac issues, like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Trouble sleeping, sleep apnea
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Hormonal issues – menstrual, lack of energy
  • Pain in joints and/or muscles
  • Digestion issues
  • Some cancers
  • Reduced mobility
  • Anxiety and or depression
  • Impact on school, work, or social life

Diagnosing Binge Eating Disorder:

While the condition can present at any age, it is more likely to be first seen in the later teens or early twenties. To run a complete diagnosis, the person must have a minimum of between 1 and 3 episodes for at least 3 months.

The recurring binge-eating episodes must present with 3 or more elements including:

  • Eating at a faster pace than others
  • Eating beyond a normal feeling of being comfortably full
  • Eating alone to avoid people seeing how fast one eats, or how much is being eaten
  • Eating a lot, despite not feeling hungry
  • Experiencing shame, depression, and/or disgust after binging
  • Feeling out of control regarding consumption during an episode

Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder for males. According to the DSM-5, binge-eating disorder severity ranges from:

Mild – 1 to 3 episodes per week
Moderate – 4 to 7 episodes weekly
Severe – 8 to 13 episodes weekly
Extreme – more than 14 episodes weekly

A common diagnostic approach is to look at the person’s medical history and do a physical exam and lab work — to assess blood pressure; digestive enzyme, electrolyte and cholesterol levels; and any problems with diabetes, the heart, and sleep disorders — and to rule out other possible conditions.

A psychiatrist, psychologist, or doctor will conduct a psychological evaluation to determine the individual’s state of mind and to discuss their eating habits.

Similar to other eating disorders, BED is an expressive disorder — an expression of deeper psychological problems. BED often coexists with clinical depression, as it is common for people to turn to food for comfort and to help lift their mood when they are feeling down.

Treatment of Binge Eating Disorder:

The goal of treatment is to see a reduction in the number of binges and, where needed, to get the person’s weight to line up with their gender, height, and age. Typically, weight loss programs are supervised by a medical professional and undertaken cautiously to ensure sufficient nutrition and to make sure the program doesn’t trigger binge episodes.

A significant element associated with binge eating is related to a negative self-image, shame, and other negative thought processes and emotions. Individual or group psychotherapy sessions have a good success rate in altering these.

  • Dialectical Therapy – With a goal of reducing the urge to binge eat, this therapy targets common trigger points by teaching skills to improve relationships, better handle emotions, and deal with stress effectively.
  • CBT – More effective than behavioral weight loss programs, CBT is highly effective at treating the self-image issues that characterize BED. The person will learn how to adopt positive and constructive habits in place of the negative ones and work toward managing the condition.
  • Interpersonal Talk Therapy – Personal, academic, and work life issues can trigger BED episodes, so this therapy teaches relationship skills, successful life event transition skills, conflict management and resolution skills, and how to manage unresolved grief.

There are multiple medications that can help to reduce the frequency of binge-eating episodes in people who suffer from BED such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants.

Coping with Binge Eating Disorder:

Either during treatment or after it has been completed, a doctor may implement some of the following strategies to help a person successfully navigate the behavior change and help control or eliminate future episodes:

  • Removal of binge-friendly food choices from the house. Most people may already be able to list off their binge trigger foods and will need to make sure they are not kept in the house, or create a strategy that works for everyone in a shared living situation.
  • Accurately identify hunger. Binge eating can be an issue when an individual does not recognize hunger and subsequently misses cues that the body needs nutrition. In cases like this, the person will need to learn tactics for recognizing their hunger cues and how to respond in a healthy way – by selecting healthy snacks before hunger is to the point of triggering an episode.
  • Eat intentionally. Make mealtimes solely about food, and reduce or eliminate distractions like television or media consumption.
  • Document snacks and meals. Journal all eating activities including meal and snack times; what is eaten; and any emotions leading up to, during, and after eating.
  • Create strategies for boredom prevention. Since many people can experience an increased urge to binge eat when they are bored, come up with ideas to engage in enjoyable and productive activities if there is the potential for downtime.

Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder:

Some people with binge-eating disorder maintain a normal weight, but it is more common for individuals to be overweight.

Binge eating is characterized by the repeated presence of 3 or more of the following:

  • Consuming a disproportionately large amount of food during a distinct period of time, such as two hours
  • Lack of a sense of control during the episode – an inability to control what or how much one is eating
  • Eating much more rapidly and insatiably compared to others – eating until uncomfortably full and consuming large quantities of food, despite not feeling physically hungry
  • Often eating in isolation out of embarrassment
  • Feeling disgusted, depressed, and guilty after a binge-eating episode
  • Episodes generally occur weekly during a period of 3 months
  • Binge eating does not normally include ongoing use of other behaviors associated with bulimia like purging
  • Engaging in frequent dieting, even though not always losing weight
  • Episodes are often accompanied with actions or behaviors to keep it a secret
  • Creating a personal food stash of snacks around the house

The frequency of weekly binge-eating episodes is how the severity of a case is determined, but anyone with symptoms should see a doctor at their earliest convenience to get the condition under control and prevent further complications.

Due to the fact that it is common for the individual to experience shame because of their episodes, and because they are likely to be secretive about the condition, it is often challenging to spot or diagnose BED unless the person approaches a medical professional for help or presents with a related mental disorder resulting from the condition.

Causes of Binge Eating Disorder:

The precise cause of binge-eating disorder remains unknown, but the most significant contributors are cognitive and/or emotional. A person’s state of mind, their thought processes, and their emotional health have all been shown to have a direct impact on their actions. For some, this makes them susceptible to episodes of binge eating if experiencing low self-esteem, depression, or anxiety.

Other contributing factors include:

  • Age
  • Biological makeup
  • Genetic makeup
  • Gender
  • Family history
  • Trauma
  • Mental health disorders
  • Propensity to diet

Binge Eating Disorder complications:

Complications from binge-eating disorder can be severely damaging physically, mentally, and socially. Some of these complications are:

  • Cardiac issues, like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Trouble sleeping, sleep apnea
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Hormonal issues – menstrual, lack of energy
  • Pain in joints and/or muscles
  • Digestion issues
  • Some cancers
  • Reduced mobility
  • Anxiety and or depression
  • Impact on school, work, or social life

Diagnosing Binge Eating Disorder:

While the condition can present at any age, it is more likely to be first seen in the later teens or early twenties. To run a complete diagnosis, the person must have a minimum of between 1 and 3 episodes for at least 3 months.

The recurring binge-eating episodes must present with 3 or more elements including:

  • Eating at a faster pace than others
  • Eating beyond a normal feeling of being comfortably full
  • Eating alone to avoid people seeing how fast one eats, or how much is being eaten
  • Eating a lot, despite not feeling hungry
  • Experiencing shame, depression, and/or disgust after binging
  • Feeling out of control regarding consumption during an episode

Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder for males. According to the DSM-5, binge-eating disorder severity ranges from:

Mild – 1 to 3 episodes per week
Moderate – 4 to 7 episodes weekly
Severe – 8 to 13 episodes weekly
Extreme – more than 14 episodes weekly

A common diagnostic approach is to look at the person’s medical history and do a physical exam and lab work — to assess blood pressure; digestive enzyme, electrolyte and cholesterol levels; and any problems with diabetes, the heart, and sleep disorders — and to rule out other possible conditions.

A psychiatrist, psychologist, or doctor will conduct a psychological evaluation to determine the individual’s state of mind and to discuss their eating habits.

Similar to other eating disorders, BED is an expressive disorder — an expression of deeper psychological problems. BED often coexists with clinical depression, as it is common for people to turn to food for comfort and to help lift their mood when they are feeling down.

Treatment of Binge Eating Disorder:

The goal of treatment is to see a reduction in the number of binges and, where needed, to get the person’s weight to line up with their gender, height, and age. Typically, weight loss programs are supervised by a medical professional and undertaken cautiously to ensure sufficient nutrition and to make sure the program doesn’t trigger binge episodes.

A significant element associated with binge eating is related to a negative self-image, shame, and other negative thought processes and emotions. Individual or group psychotherapy sessions have a good success rate in altering these.

  • Dialectical Therapy – With a goal of reducing the urge to binge eat, this therapy targets common trigger points by teaching skills to improve relationships, better handle emotions, and deal with stress effectively.
  • CBT – More effective than behavioral weight loss programs, CBT is highly effective at treating the self-image issues that characterize BED. The person will learn how to adopt positive and constructive habits in place of the negative ones and work toward managing the condition.
  • Interpersonal Talk Therapy – Personal, academic, and work life issues can trigger BED episodes, so this therapy teaches relationship skills, successful life event transition skills, conflict management and resolution skills, and how to manage unresolved grief.

There are multiple medications that can help to reduce the frequency of binge-eating episodes in people who suffer from BED such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants.

Coping with Binge Eating Disorder:

Either during treatment or after it has been completed, a doctor may implement some of the following strategies to help a person successfully navigate the behavior change and help control or eliminate future episodes:

  • Removal of binge-friendly food choices from the house. Most people may already be able to list off their binge trigger foods and will need to make sure they are not kept in the house, or create a strategy that works for everyone in a shared living situation.
  • Accurately identify hunger. Binge eating can be an issue when an individual does not recognize hunger and subsequently misses cues that the body needs nutrition. In cases like this, the person will need to learn tactics for recognizing their hunger cues and how to respond in a healthy way – by selecting healthy snacks before hunger is to the point of triggering an episode.
  • Eat intentionally. Make mealtimes solely about food, and reduce or eliminate distractions like television or media consumption.
  • Document snacks and meals. Journal all eating activities including meal and snack times; what is eaten; and any emotions leading up to, during, and after eating.
  • Create strategies for boredom prevention. Since many people can experience an increased urge to binge eat when they are bored, come up with ideas to engage in enjoyable and productive activities if there is the potential for downtime.