Finding Effective Care for BED
Today, most people have probably heard of the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia. However, a much more common condition, binge eating disorder, is not as well-known. This illness is marked by a recurring, involuntary cycle of food binging. Binge eating disorder affects twice as many people as anorexia. In addition, it affects four times more people than bulimia. And just like anorexia and bulimia, it can be fatal in a worst-case scenario.
Today, effective binge eating disorder treatment is available. In many cases, this treatment must not only address the disorder itself. In addition, it must address other serious mental health issues in affected people. This full-spectrum approach helps ensure that you have the best possible chance of regaining your health and well-being.
What Is Binge Eating Disorder
Most people with a ready supply of food overeat from time to time. If you have binge eating disorder, or BED, overeating is not an occasional habit. Instead, it happens again and again over time. It also takes an unusually intense form. While binging, affected people eat much more in a given amount of time than others who do not have BED. They also feel unable to stop themselves from eating in such large amounts.
In these respects, binge eating disorder resembles bulimia. However, people with bulimia follow their food binging with purging behaviors. These behaviors are designed to eliminate the calories consumed during a binge. People with BED do not attempt to eliminate the calories they consume.
Some people with binge eating disorder have an average body weight for their height and age. However, the majority of those affected meet the criteria for clinical obesity. In addition to obesity, a range of other physical problems are associated with BED. The list of these problems includes:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD
- Breathing problems
- Types 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Joint damage
In addition to physical issues, BED can lead to:
- A decline in your normal ability to function
- Isolation from others
- Damage to your overall quality of life
Binge eating disorder is a relatively new mental health diagnosis. In fact, it did not officially exist until 2013. Instead, people who went on repeated food binges without purging were diagnosed with an unspecified eating disorder.
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How Common is Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder is the single most common eating disorder in the U.S. About 1.2% of all American adults qualify for a BED diagnosis. In contrast, 0.6% of adults have anorexia and 0.3% of adults have bulimia. The rate for all of these disorders is higher among teenagers.
Females develop binge eating disorder at twice the rate of males. However, this is a much smaller gender disparity than that found in cases of anorexia or bulimia. Almost a fifth of all people with BED are severely impaired by their condition.
Diagnosing a Binge Eating Disorder
When diagnosing binge eating disorder, doctors look for certain key criteria. To be diagnosed, you must binge on food an average of once a week or more for a minimum of three months. You must also feel unable to control your binging behavior. While binging, you must do at least three of these things:
- Consume food at a speed far above your typical pace
- Keep eating past the point of fullness
- Eat heavily when you do not actually feel hunger
- Feel embarrassed by your behavior and eat alone to hide it
- Experience guilt, self-disgust or depression when a food binge ends
In addition, you must feel notably distressed about your behavior.
It is important to distinguish BED from bulimia and binge-purge anorexia. For this reason, your doctor will make sure that you are not taking part in purging behaviors. In addition, your binging behavior cannot be a direct result of having bulimia or anorexia.
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Dual Diagnosis and Eating Disorders
It is common for a person with an eating disorder to have additional mental health issues. When two mental health problems occur together, doctors refer to the result as dual diagnosis. If you have dual diagnosis, a combined treatment approach is required. Instead of getting help for just one of your illnesses, you need help for both of them.
Certain mental illnesses are relatively common in people with binge eating disorder. These illnesses include:
- Anxiety disorders
- The mood disorders depression and bipolar disorder
- Drug- and alcohol-related substance disorders
- Impulse control and conduct disorders
In total, nearly four in five people with BED have dual diagnosis. Almost two-thirds of those affected have an anxiety disorder. Over 40% have a mood disorder, impulse control disorder or conduct disorder. More than 20% have a substance use disorder.
Medication for Binge Eating Disorder
Medication often plays a part in binge eating disorder treatment. One medication, Vyvanse, has received FDA approval as an option for people affected by the illness. It helps reduce the amount of time you binge on food in a given week.
Other medications can also be adapted for the same purpose. Examples include certain antidepressants and an anticonvulsant called Topamax. It is important to note that BED medication may not contribute to overall weight loss.
Forms of Therapy for Binge Eating Disorder
Psychotherapy is another common approach for treating BED. Several forms of therapy for binge eating disorder are available.
Interpersonal Therapy for Binge Eating
Interpersonal therapy focuses on the quality of your interactions with other people. That includes your:
- Members of your family
- People you interact with at work or in school
The aim of the therapy is to make your interactions more positive and genial. Why is this important? Poor communication abilities and difficult personal relationships may make you more likely to binge on food. By improving your skills, you help decrease your binging risks.
CBT and Eating Disorder Treatment
CBT is cognitive behavioral therapy. In binge eating disorder treatment, this therapy can also decrease the odds that you will binge on food. It does so by helping you change thoughts, feelings and behaviors that tend to worsen your BED symptoms. CBT also helps you create new, beneficial mental and behavioral routines.
DBT for Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
DBT is dialectical behavior therapy. This therapy is known to help people affected by dual diagnosis. In the context of your BED symptoms, it helps you:
- Improve your ability to control your emotions
- Increase the quality of your relationships
- Develop a greater resistance to the effects of daily stress
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Concerns About Weight Loss Treatments
As a rule, weight loss is not the focus of binge eating disorder treatment. Instead, treatment focuses on helping you address your specific BED symptoms. Why is this the case? Many people with the disorder have tried and failed to lose weight multiple times in the past. In addition, dieting while you have active BED can easily make your symptoms worse.
For these reasons, weight loss efforts typically begin after you have firmly established your recovery. This approach answers the major concerns about weight loss treatments. Supervised weight loss is recommended for all people recovering from BED.
Residential Treatments for Eating Disorders
Treatment plans for binge eating disorder may call for enrollment in an outpatient program. However, residential treatment is common. You may be a fit for residential care for a number of reasons. For example, you may:
- Be affected by dual diagnosis
- Need ongoing help to manage your binging behaviors
- Not live in a home environment that supports your recovery
- Have relatively low motivation to change your binging behaviors
Your doctor will help you decide which treatment setting will work best for you.
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Is Recovery From Eating Disorders Possible
Less than half of all people with binge eating disorder seek treatment. This is unfortunate. Recovery from BED is an achievable goal. However, it is typically not a simple or straightforward process. All eating disorders are complicated mental health conditions. This is especially true for people affected by dual diagnosis. Effective treatment plans must address the full range of your mental health issues.
Despite these challenges, many people with BED fully recover with proper treatment. Partial recoveries also occur. People who partially recover continue to experience some of their binging-related symptoms. However, they may still make significant treatment gains. CBT and interpersonal therapy are particularly helpful for long-term success.
Seek Binge Eating Disorder Treatment at Emerald Isle
While not as well-known as anorexia or bulimia, binge-eating disorder is America’s most widespread eating disorder. People affected by BED go through recurring cycles of food binging. They also experience serious distress and a loss of control. The disorder often does not occur in isolation. Instead, it tends to be accompanied by another mental illness in what is known as dual diagnosis.
Medication and therapy both play a role in BED treatment. Several medications can help you reduce the length or number of food binging episodes. Therapy helps you address deeper issues that sustain or worsen the effects of the illness. Therapy can also help you cope with the effects of any additional mental health issues. Outpatient care for BED is possible. However, residential treatment plans are often required.
Binge eating disorder treatment is frequently effective. Not everyone with the illness will fully recover. Still, full recoveries are not at all rare. In addition, some people partially recover from BED.
Need treatment for binge eating disorder? Turn to the specialists at Emerald Isle Health & Recovery. We can help determine if you are actually affected by BED. We can also determine the seriousness of your condition and create an effective treatment plan. Whether you need residential or outpatient care, you will receive quality, customized care. To learn more about how we can support your recovery, call us today.
- National Eating Disorder Association: Binge Eating Disorder
- Mayo Clinic: Binge-Eating Disorder – Symptoms & Causes
- National Institute of Mental Health: Eating Disorders
- U.S. National Library of Medicine – MedlinePlus: Dual Diagnosis
- Mayo Clinic: Binge-Eating Disorder – Diagnosis & Treatment
- National Eating Disorders Association: Level of Care Guidelines for Patients – American Psychiatric Association Level of Care Guidelines for Patients With Eating Disorders
- The British Journal of Psychiatry: Long-Term Efficacy of Psychological Treatments for Binge Eating Disorder