A binge eating disorder is an eating disorder where people consume unusually large amounts of food in one sitting. Many people who are binge eaters feel a lack of control over their eating and may feel extremely depressed and guilty after a binge eating episode. Binge eaters may be overweight or obese, but can also be of normal weight. Binge eaters are twice as likely to be women than men. There is no specific cause for binge eating but in working with these patients I have discovered that oftentimes binge eating is linked to a long history of relationship dissatisfaction, typically starting with important caregivers early in life. Binge eating may be caused by depression or anxiety which is usually the result of painful childhood experiences or family problems.
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Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorders
Symptoms of binge eating disorders can be behavioral and emotional and may include:
- Eating when depressed, sad or bored
- Eating large amounts of food when not hungry
- Eating alone during binge episodes
- Feeling disgusted, guilty, or depressed after binge episode
- Eating until physically uncomfortable
- Cannot not exercise control over consumption of food
Typical binge episodes may include:
- Large amounts of food eaten quickly
- Low nutritional value of food
- Relatively high taste value of food
- Eating alone and in an isolated environment
Treatment of Binge Eating Disorders
Treatment for a binge eating disorders may include insight oriented psychotherapy, support groups, and psychological counseling. The goal of treatment is to reduce eating binges, improve emotional well-being, and when necessary, help patients understand the meaning behind their actions and why they are binge eating at any particular moment. All these methods of treatment focus on improving the patient‘s ability to cope with difficult situations, which I have discovered are linked to the binge eating episodes. Self-help strategies such as books, videos and internet programs rarely have any long term impact when it comes to effectively treating binge eating disorders.