Eating disorders are challenging to study, diagnose, treat, and at the same time, they are prevalent. At least 100 million people worldwide of all genders and ages suffer from eating disorders. From complex behaviors hidden from peers to the public misunderstanding that eating ailments are a choice, these disorders are complex and hard to understand.
What is a binge eating disorder (BED)?
Binge eating is when you eat a lot of food in a short amount of time and feel that you cannot control what you eat and how much you eat. Regular binges (at least once a week for three months) can lead to bulimia.
If you have bulimia, you may feel very depressed about binge eating. You may also be embarrassed and try to hide the problem. Even close friends and family may not know that you are overeating and suffering from this illness.
Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating illness is not just about eating occasionally. People with bulimia describe the loss of control connected with eating. They can eat fast, binge while not hungry, or eat till painfully full.
Guilt and Binge Eating Disorder
After an episode of bulimia, the patient may experience symptoms of bulimia such as guilt, depression, and shame. This behavior can cause a vicious circle and further episodes of binge eating that are difficult to detect or diagnose properly.
Weight Change and Binge Eating Disorder
Weight instabilities are a characteristic symptom of bulimia, as people with bulimia can follow a diet to supplement the episode of binge eating disorder. Weight-loss attempts may not be successful without controlling this behavior. Binge eating can also cause you to gain weight.
Diagnosis of Binge Eating Disorder
The diagnostic sign of bulimia is bulimia nervosa for at least six months, at least twice a week. As mentioned earlier, people can hide this behavior, making it even more challenging to diagnose. The diagnostic process usually includes a physical examination, medical history, family history, and a thorough dietary survey.
What is the difference between binge eating disorders and other eating disorders?
The mental health of women with eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and loss of appetite influences their dietary style and sometimes their exercise style. These eating conditions intimidate their health.
Unlike people with bulimia and anorexia nervosa, people with binge eating don’t throw away food, exercise a lot, or go hungry. People with binge eating are generally overweight and obese. However, not all people with binge eating are fat. Being overweight doesn’t necessarily mean you have binge eating.
There may be multiple eating disorders in your life. Any eating disorder can be treated and ameliorated if timely and properly diagnosed.
Who is at risk for binge eating disorder?
Binge eating affects over 3% of women in the United States. More than half of patients with binge eating are women.
Binge eating affects women of all races and nationalities. That is the most common eating disorder among Hispanic, Asian, and African-American women.
Some women may be susceptible to binge eating:
- Women and girls on diets are 12 times more likely to suffer from binge eating disorders than women and girls without diets.
- Binge eating has a more significant impact on young, middle-aged women than older women. Typically, women develop binge eating disorders between the first and mid-20. However, binge eating disorders are more common in older women. In one study, 13 percent of American women over 50 showed an eating disorder.
What causes binge eating disorder?
The reason for binge eating is unknown. It can start in early childhood or adolescence or be done in the family. Studies show that half of the people with this illness suffer from depression. It is unsure whether depression is the cause or the result of bulimia.
Binge eating can be caused by emotions and reactions, such as anger, boredom, sadness, and anxiety. Acting quickly without thinking (Impulsive behavior) and certain other emotional complications are expected in people with bulimia.
It is unclear whether the diet is related to binge eating, but a strict diet can exacerbate this problem. Some studies have shown that limiting food intake or following a low-calorie diet can trigger overeating. About half of people with binge eating develop binge eating just before dieting.
What are the complications of binge eating disorder?
People with binge eating often suffer from deficiencies of minerals and vitamins because they are high in nutritious fats and sugars. According to survey reports, about half of binge patients are obese.
Most complications are disorders with obesity. These include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease and stroke
- Certain types of cancer
- Gallbladder disease
- Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders associated with binge eating discomfort
Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
Treatment of BED is essential to reduce the lifetime prevalence of disability, i.e., to reduce the possibility of BED behaviors throughout life.
As with most eating disorders, the first evidence-based treatment suggested is CBT (Cognitive-behavioral therapy). According to one study, “CBT is austere, well-tolerated, and can maintain remission for a year or two. CBT focuses on the effects of theories and thoughts on consequent emotions and behaviors. Encourage individuals to change their core beliefs and ideas then change their behavior.
DBT (Dialectical behavior therapy) is also suggested. It was created for those who have difficulty regulating their emotions and are tied to the BED. DBT emphasizes controlling emotional states, enduring pain, living in the moment, and communicating needs with others. These skills can effectively alleviate the symptoms of BED and lessen the signs of the diseases that often accompany BED.
Irrespective of the theoretical coordination of treatment, the important is to receive treatment. Of course, as a conscious individual, don’t be scared to ask your treatment team if they use the latest evidence-based therapies, and if not, why they don’t use them. Even so, through any mental health treatment, an individual’s likelihood of achieving BED symptom relief and recovery will increase.
Seek support, become a supporter of treatment, and don’t be afraid to fight for a BED-less future.
Dr. Achille Kaboré