What is Binge Eating Disorder?

What is binge eating disorder and how is treatedBinge eating disorder is also called compulsive eating disorder (CAT) which belongs to the group of eating disorders along with anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Patients quickly ingest large amounts of foods that are often very high in calories. People who suffer from binge eating are often overweight and obese. They also often suffer from depression, anxiety and feelings of guilt.

Binge eating term began in the 1990s such as “overdose syndrome” or “compulsive ingestion disorder” and since 1994 it is considered a clinical condition of its own. Since 2013, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic Handbook for Mental Illness recognizes “binge eating disorder” as the third eating disorder after anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

The people with a binge eating disorder can not control how much they eat or when they should stop, and in some cases can exceed 6,000 calories a day. Unlike bulimia nervosa, patients do not use systematic methods such as self-vomiting or doing too much exercise in order to compensate for weight gain. People with binge eating disorder often suffer from being overweight and obese in most cases.

Binge eating disorder and causes

Binge eating disorder is estimated to affect two percent of the population. In the case of people with obesity, binge eating disorder is more frequent: between four and nine percent of people with obesity may suffer from this disorder.

Unlike anorexia nervosa or bulimia, many men are also affected by this disorder. The causes of binge eating are unknown. Genetic, biological and psychic factors are likely to contribute to its development. The treatment of binge eating disorder is based on behavioral therapeutic methods. Medications are not usually an option to treat this disorder but they can be used as part of a multidisciplinary treatment in some cases.

Since binge eating disorder has a relatively new clinical picture, there are few studies on the course of this disorder. Adequate treatment is especially important for both the evolution and diagnosis of this disorder to avoid complications associated with being overweight.


What Causes To Binge Eating Disorder?

The exact causes of binge eating are not known. It appears to be due to several factors including genetic factors, biological factors, long-term restrictive diets and psychological problems and other eating disorders.

Overweight people are at an increased risk of having a binge eating disorder than people with a healthy weight. That is why being overweight can be both a cause and a consequence of this eating disorder. Patients are in a vicious circle. For this reason, it is important that they normalize their weight in the context of a treatment.

Binge eating disorder causes and reasons

Feelings of anger, frustration, boredom or depression often can increase the risk of a binge eating disorder and thus cause binge eating. Experts believe that the intake process diverts unpleasant feelings into pleasant sensations. Also, people with emotional difficulties are sometimes unable to distinguish hunger from unpleasant feelings. Eating produces an immediate satisfaction that is often used to compensate or  hide other unpleasant dissatisfactions or emotions such as anger, boredom, frustration, anxiety or even depression.

Also low levels of self-esteem, an extremely perfectionist personality and a lack of healthy eating habits, as well as a basic education in the importance of healthy eating, performing miracle diets.  The binge eating disorder is often preceded by prolonged dissatisfaction with one’s own body image and repeated attempts to lose weight. Fashions such as obsessive thinness and excess food seem equally to influence binge eating disorder.

In summary, the factors that may increase the risk of developing binge eating disorder are:

  • Family history of eating disorders: It is more likely to suffer an eating disorder if parents or siblings suffer or have suffered.
  • Psychological problems: Most people who have binge eating disorder have self-esteem problems. In addition, some triggers of binge eating can be stress, low self-esteem and low personal or body value, and boredom.
  • To be on a diet: If restrictive diets are performed for a long time, it can favor the onset of eating disorders.
  • Age: Although eating disorders can appear at any age, they often arise in adolescence.

Binge Eating Disorder Symptomps

There are so many symptomps of uncontrolled and regular binge eating. Paients ingest large amounts of food in a short time. After overeating, they have deep feelings of guilt as well as depressed moods. The most visible symptoms in patients with this disorder are:

  • They consume large quantities of food in a specific period of time, such as during a period of 2 hours
  • Those affected eat even when they are full or not hungry
  • They eat quickly during binge eating
  • They eat until they feel uncomfortable
  • They often carry out bingeing in solitude or in secret
  • They feel depressed, upset, embarrassed, guilty or upset by their eating
  • They often follow diets without being able to lose weight

People who are overweight have a higher risk of getting sick from a binge eating disorder than people with normal weight. In the case of binge eating disorder, patients become fatter. A vicious circle is created and the symptoms are evident in being overweight. This aspect differentiates, for example, the disorder of binge eating of bulimia in which affected person tries to compensate  vomiting, practicing excessive physical activity or abusing the laxatives. Bulimine is also more common in overweight people.

Binge eating symptomps

Many patients tend to depressive mood states or may even develop depression. Binge eating disorder can be associated with other symptoms, for example, stress, anxiety, fears or insomnia.

When suffering from eating disorders, other psychological and physical problems arise in this case with binge eating. Thus, people with binge eating disorders often have the following problems:

  • They feel bad about themselves and their lives
  • Their quality of life is not good
  • They usually isolate themselves socially
  • They are often overweight or obese, leading to other conditions such as joint problems, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and some sleep-related breathing disorders.

Psychiatric disorders that are often related to binge eating disorder are:

  • Depression
  • The anxiety
  • Substance use disorders (medications, antidepressants, drugs and so on)

How is Binge Eating Disorder Diagnosed?

In the case of binge eating disorder, the diagnosis is obtained according to the patient’s medical history (anamnesis). For a diagnosis of binge eating disorder, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is published by the American Psychiatric Association which lists following points:

Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge-eating is characterized by the following two conditions:

Ingestion of a quantity of food definitely higher than that most people could consume at the same time and under similar circumstances in a short period of time.

Eating disorder in general

Sensation loss of control over intake during the episode (for example, feeling that one can not stop eating or controlling what or how much one is eating).

Binge eating episodes are associated with three or more of the following symptoms:

  • Ingestion much faster than usual
  • Eat until you feel unpleasantly full
  • Ingestion of large amounts of food despite not being hungry
  • Eat alone to hide their greediness
  • Feeling self-disgusted, depressed, or guilty after binge-eating
  • Binge eating takes place at least two days a week for six months
  • Binge eating is not associated with inadequate compensatory strategies and do not appear exclusively during anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa

To diagnose binge eating disorder, your doctor may also recommend a psychological evaluation, including the analysis of eating habits. The doctor may also require other tests to check for health consequences of binge eating disorder, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, GERD and certain sleep-related breathing disorders. Other tests may include:

  • A complete physical examination (weight control, blood and temperature control, review of symptoms on the skin as dryness …)
  • Blood or urine tests (determine if there is anemia, lack of some nutrients such as proteins, electrolyte minerals …)
  • An analysis of sleep

How is Binge Eating Disorder Treated?

To successfully treat binge eating disorder, treatment should have several goals. Patients should normalize their weight to regain normal behavior when eating food. On the other hand, underlying psychic causes must be addressed. In the context of a binge eating disorder, this is achieved with a psychological treatment.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is considered the best treatment for binge eating disorder. This treatment resembles the therapeutic strategies which are developed to treat cases of bulimia. The objective is to normalize the behavior before the food intake and regulate the rhythm of the meals. Frequently, a daily log is used to record amounts of foods ingested. This helps to detect moods, feelings and customs that cause binges.

Therapeutic behavioral strategies can help patients in a binge eating disorder to improve self-control. They also learn to master stressful situations without succumbing to binge eating.

Drug treatment

In certain specific cases it may be effective to complement drug treatment. According to the patient’s picture, antidepressants for binge eating disorder are effective in some cases. If sufferer is severely overweight due to binge eating disorder, medication may be considered to help with weight loss.

Since the cause is not known, no treatment is capable to resolve the problem at source. We can only take advantage of the therapeutic effect of some drugs such as antidepressants on some of the factors that seem to intervene in the onset and maintenance of binge eating disorder, such as depressive mood or anxiety.

On the other hand, many people with binge eating disorder have a history of failed attempts to lose weight on their own. However, weight loss programs are not recommended until binge eating disorder is treated, since diet can trigger more episodes of binge eating. Once the problem is overcome, weight loss is recommended to be done under medical supervision to ensure that nutritional needs are met.

Dietary supplements or herbal products commonly used to suppress appetite or promote weight loss are often abused by people with eating disorders. Keep in mind that, these weight loss supplements or herbs can have serious side effects and dangers when interacting with other medications.


Binge Eating Disorder Process

There are still few studies on binge eating and its evolution. Some studies have concluded that binge eating disorder is corrected on its own without treatment in many cases. Other studies  assume that binge eating is maintained for years if left untreated.

In any case, if the disorder of binge eating is treated, the evolution is usually positive. Many patients can overcome their eating disorder with the proper treatment.

Some tips for positive treatment outcomes are:

  • Do not skip the plan and established therapies
  • Avoid a restrictive diet, unless it is supervised. Diet can cause more episodes of binge eating.
  • Have breakfast. Many people with binge eating skip breakfast. You can avoid eating less high-calorie foods during the day
  • Organize your environment. The availability of certain foods can trigger binge eating. Keep the compulsive foods out of your reach and your fridge
  • Maintain social and family contact
  • Stay active. Do some moderate physical exercise to avoid and reduce overweight and obesity

Binge Eating Disorder Complications

Compulsive food intakes that occur in the context of binge eating disorder are associated with visible complications. Patients gain weight because they eat large quantities of foods that are often very high in calories. Due to possible overweight, people with a binge eating disorder are also at high risk of other specific diseases, such as the following:

  • Mellitus diabetes
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Diseases of the gallbladder
  • Diseases of the joints
  • The psychological consequences of binge eating can be low self-esteem, stress, depression or social phobia.
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