Binge-Eating Disorder

What is binge-eating disorder?

Binge-eating disorder, also known as BED, is an eating disorder characterized by recurrent binge eating that is done without measures being taken to counter act the binge eating such as purging, fasting, or excessively exercising (Neda).

Symptoms

- frequently consuming large quantities of food without measures being taken to prevent weight gain

- a feeling of being out of control while eating

- feelings of strong shame or guilt towards eating

- eating alone because of a feeling of shame and secrecy

- eating continuously throughout the day

- overweight

- hiding or stockpiling food to eat in secret

- never feeling satisfied, no matter how much you eat (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014)

Possible causes of binge-eating disorder

The most important thing to keep in mind if you think that you may be suffering from binge-eating disorder is that there are many possible causes for the disorder and they are not your fault. Just as you wouldn't blame a person for developing cancer, it is not their fault if they develop an eating disorder. There are a number of different factors that can lead to the development of a binge-eating disorder including biological, psychological, social and cultural causes. Biologically there are a number of factors that can influence binge-eating disorder such as the hypothalamus not sending correct signals in regard to hunger and fullness, genetic mutations that may be responsible for food addictions and low levels of serotonin may be a factor in compulsive eating (HELPGUIDE.org). The overwhelming social pressure to be thin may also cause an increase in emotional eating because the sufferer is ashamed of their binge eating, using food to comfort or reward children is a dangerous method used throughout our culture that may also be a leading cause to binge-eating disorder because it is creating an unhealthy relationship between the idea of food and comfort. Psychologically, depression may be a very large cause of binge-eating disorder as well.
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Treatment Options

There are many treatment options available if you believe that you may be suffering from a binge-eating disorder, the first step is talking to your physician and asking for help. Therapy has been proved to be an effective method for the treatment of a binge-eating disorder, cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy are the three most common forms of therapy for this disorder helping you with every aspect of the disorder (HELPGUIDE.org). Just as with any other addiction, it is understandable that you will slip up from time to time while trying to break the vicious cycle of binge-eating, support groups can be an extremely important part of treatment because they allow you to own up to these slips and seek help when feeling the urge to binge-eat without feeling like you are being judged.
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Myths/Misperceptions

- Binge-eating is just a bad habit or shows that the person has no self control

- It's just an excuse to keep eating

- Binge eaters are just lazy

- Binge eating is a girl thing

- Binge eaters should just go on a diet


These are all common myths and misconceptions about binge-eating disorder that are all easy to disprove. Binge eating is not simply an excuse to keep eating or a bad habit, it is listed in the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM), proving that it is an actual disorder. Many binge eaters are also very successful people with careers and families, unlike the common misconception that they are all simply lazy. For some reason binge eating is solely thought of as being a "girl thing", but in reality 2% of American men have a binge-eating disorder compared to 3-5%of American women (cbsnews). Binge-eating cannot be cured by dieting because it is an actual illness.

References

Nolen-Hoekesma, S. (2014). Abnormal Psychology. 6th edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Binge Eating Disorder. (n.d.). NEDA feeding hope. Retrieved from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/binge-eating-disorder

Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Help. (n.d.). HELPGUIDE. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/binge_eating_disorder.htm#effects