While less well-known than anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder is actually the most common eating disorder in the United States today. Since being officially recognized as a separate disorder in 2013, studies show that this type of eating disorder affects around 2.8 million Americans. Characterized by the act of uncontrollably consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time, women with binge eating disorder (BED) typically develop the condition in adolescence or early adulthood, while men tend to develop it in midlife. For people interested in binge eating disorder recovery, there are several different options available. However, before looking closer into available binge eating treatment centers, it is important that families work to understand more about the condition.
What Is Binge Eating Disorder?
Binge eating disorder is a common eating disorder in which a person will frequently eat very large amounts of food while feeling unable to stop their actions. They typically feel distressed or disgusted with their actions during and/or after a binge. During a binge, people may even eat when not hungry and continue to eat until they feel uncomfortably full. It is also common for those who binge eat to do so at such a fast pace that they will barely register what they are eating or tasting.
The biggest difference that sets this type of eating disorder apart from others is that people with binge eating disorder don’t feel the need to “make up” for the excessive amount of calories they have eaten after a binge, unlike those with bulimia nervosa or binge-eating type anorexia nervosa. This means that after a binge, people with the disorder do not continue on with forced vomiting, excessive exercise, fasting or the overuse of laxatives and diuretics.
It is entirely normal for those with binge eating disorder to feel a brief moment of comfort when they first start the process, this can help to ease feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. However, once the reality of what they are doing sets in, most people with binge eating disorder are instantly flooded with feelings of self-loathing and regret. Binge-eating can also quickly lead to weight gain and/or obesity, which only works to reinforce the cycle of compulsive eating. Often, the worse someone feels about their appearance and health, the more they will continue to use food to cope with those negative feelings. But as much as people may feel helpless in this cycle, binge eating disorder treatment can help.
Signs and Symptoms: How To Identify Binge Eating Disorder
Eating disorder recovery can be a long but very rewarding process for patients and their families. But before urging a loved one to enter into a binge eating treatment program, it is best to be fully aware of the signs and symptoms. So before parents or friends talk to their loved ones about binge eating disorder treatment, they’ll need to learn more about the condition. Some of the most common signs and symptoms associated with binge eating disorder include:
Behavioral Symptoms of Binge Eating
- The inability to stop eating or control what is being eaten
- Rapidly eating large amounts of food in a short period of time
- Eating food even when feeling full
- Hiding food or stockpiling food to eat secretly
- Eating “normal” amounts of food around others but gorging on food when alone
- Eating continuously all day long, rarely or never planning mealtimes
Physical Symptoms of Binge Eating
- Very noticeable weight fluctuations, going both up and down
- Difficulties concentrating
- Stomach cramping
- Acid reflux
- Other gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome
Emotional Symptoms of Binge Eating
- Embarrassment over the amount of food eaten
- Desperation to get control over weight fluctuations and eating habits
- Feeling tension, stress or anxiety that can only be relieved by eating
- Feeling numb while binge eating, as if operating on auto-pilot
- Never feeling completely satisfied after eating, no matter how much food is consumed
- Feelings of guilt, disgust or depression after binge eating
What Causes Binge Eating Disorder?
While binge eating counseling dives deeper into the potential causes of the disorder, studies suggest that there is a combination of factors that can lead to the development of this and other eating disorders – including personal experiences, genes, and emotions.
Biological Risk Factors
There are several different biological abnormalities that can help to make some people more likely to develop binge eating disorder than others. For instance, if a person has issues with the hypothalamus in their brain, they could be missing important signals that have to do with hunger and fullness. Research has also found what appears to be a genetic mutation that can cause food addiction. Additionally, other evidence shows that low levels of the chemical serotonin in the brain may contribute to compulsive eating.
Psychological Risk Factors
Binge eating is strongly linked to depression. Many people who have BED are currently depressed or have been in the past. When a patient has been diagnosed with binge eating disorder and another mental health condition like depression, they should seek out a binge eating treatment Program that is designed to treat co-occurring disorders. Other people with binge eating disorder may find that they have trouble with impulse control and/or managing their feelings. Additionally, loneliness, low self-esteem, and body dissatisfaction can also help contribute to binge eating behaviors.
Health Consequences: Why is Binge Eating Disorder Treatment So Important?
When it comes to binge eating recovery, early intervention is key. Eating disorders like binge eating disorder are very serious and can be life-threatening without binge eating counseling. They can pose risks to a persons emotional and physical health and are not something that people will simply outgrow. In fact, binge eating disorder is very complex and often devastating condition that has many serious health consequences.
If an individual with binge eating disorder is on the fence about searching for binge eating treatment centers, it is important that they have a clear picture of the potential health risks that they are taking. Some of the most common health consequences related to binge eating disorder include:
- Gastrointestinal issues
- High cholesterol
- Musculoskeletal conditions (low back pain, sciatica, etc.)
- Sleep apnea
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Infertility and/or pregnancy issues
Mental Health Consequences
- Social isolation
- Severe anxiety
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD)
- Personality disorders
- Alcohol and/or substance abuse
The longer a mental health condition like binge eating disorder is left untreated, the greater the impact it will have on a person’s health and overall quality of life. That is why it is imperative that anyone who is exhibiting signs of binge eating disorder looks into the benefits of professional binge eating therapy as soon as possible.
What Types of Binge Eating Treatment Are Available?
For those interested in binge eating therapy, there are a number of different treatment options available. While the binge eating disorder recovery process can be intimidating at first, with the right coping skills and a great support network, those with the condition will find that binge eating counseling is worth the effort. Different people respond to different types of binge eating therapy better than others, so it is a good idea for patients and families to keep this in mind when deciding on the right binge eating disorder treatment center to meet their needs. Some of the most common binge eating recovery options include:
Levels of Care
- Intensive outpatient care/outpatient care –Sometimes referred to as day treatment, outpatients care is ideal for people who are both medically and psychiatrically stable but still need help overcoming triggers.
- Partial hospital care –This treatment option is tailored to help patients who are deemed both medically and psychiatrically stable but unable to function outside of their eating disorder recovery program or transition back into their previous work, school and social routines.
- Residential treatment –With residential treatment, patients who are medically stable but psychologically impaired have access to a safe and comfortable space to work on completing the binge eating disorder recovery
- Inpatient treatment –People who are both medically and psychiatrically unstable are best suited for an inpatient care facility. Here they will have access to a team of medical and psychiatric professionals who can monitor their vital signs and help to prevent self-harming or other safety concerns.
Many evidence-based treatments have been proven to be effective in treating eating disorders. However, these treatments are not typically used as stand-alone treatments and are instead part of a broader recovery program. While some forms of treatment are better suited for certain eating disorders, most can be applied to patients with binge eating disorder. While typically conducted by a psychologist, other mental health professionals like psychiatrists, psychotherapists and eating disorder counselors can use certain aspects of psychotherapy in their treatment programs as well.
The most common types of psychotherapy used to treat binge eating disorder include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and family-based psychotherapies. However, family-based psychotherapies are generally only used to help treat children, adolescents, and young adults.
Contact Oliver-Pyatt Centers to Learn More
At Oliver-Pyatt Centers and our affiliates, we help to guide those with common eating disorders like binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa through the recovery process in the most compassionate way possible. We are proud to provide the highest quality of care to our patients in a comfortable, safe and home-like setting. With access to comprehensive eating disorder treatments options that include both medical and psychiatric care, patients and their loved ones can enjoy peace of mind knowing that a full recovery is possible.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to recover. Whether a loved one is feeling mentally and physically exhausted from their disordered binge-eating behaviors or they aren’t quite ready to let go, the possibility for them to enjoy a better quality of life is right still there.