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Binge-Eating Disorder

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder is the most common of all eating disorders, affecting an estimated 2 to 5 percent of adults. Binge eating disorder involves more than occasional overeating, but rather frequent episodes of bingeing on unusually large amounts of food. Despite feeling ashamed and disgusted, people with binge eating disorder feel an overwhelming compulsion to continue bingeing well beyond the point of fullness.

Warning Signs of Binge Eating Disorder

Because they feel a great deal of shame and powerlessness, individuals with binge eating disorder may go to great lengths to hide their disorder. Even close friends and family members may not realize the individual is suffering so profoundly.

If you’re concerned, keep a watchful eye for these symptoms of binge eating disorder:

  • Frequently consuming abnormally large amounts of food
  • Eating rapidly and until uncomfortably full
  • Eating alone or hiding food
  • Feeling numb or “out of body” when bingeing
  • Feelings of shame, guilt, depression or self-hatred

Dangers of Binge Eating

Binge eating disorder often leads to obesity, which is responsible for as many as 300,000 deaths per year. The disorder often occurs alongside other conditions, such as substance abuse and psychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders and personality disorders.

Some of the medical consequences of binge eating disorder include:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

What Causes Binge Eating Disorder?

While the causes of bulimia aren’t fully understood, there is a clear association between binge eating disorder and depression and other mental health disorders. Most likely, there is a genetic component to binge eating disorder. People with the illness often have a history of dieting, weight gain and eating to cope with feelings of anger, boredom, sadness and other painful emotions.

Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder

Like other eating disorders, binge eating disorder is complex and requires comprehensive treatment to address the underlying emotional and psychological issues as well as any medical complications. Whether an individual is normal weight, overweight or obese, they can benefit from binge eating disorder treatment.

Treatment for binge eating disorder may include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Medication
  • Family and Group Therapy
  • Weight Management and Menu Planning

In some cases, a stay in a residential eating disorder treatment program offers the best opportunity for lasting recovery. Staffed by eating disorder specialists, these programs take a comprehensive and holistic approach to treating eating disorders before initiating a weight loss plan.

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