Binge Eating Disorder Treatment Options

By: Steven Finkelstein

Updated August 28, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Kristen Hardin

Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions. The reason for their prevalence is not difficult to understand. Being thin and looking fit are highly valued in society. Advertisements for unrealistically slender models are commonplace, and social media platforms are a hotbed for negative statements and body shaming. Bullying and offhand comments can be just as harmful. That's why it's vital for you to know about binge eating disorder and the treatment options. If you or someone you care for has a binge eating disorder, or unhealthy eating habits,know that there is help available and that recovery is possible.

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What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder is a condition that can be life-threatening if it is not treated. Generally, the individual affected eats large amounts of food, often quickly and till the point that they are uncomfortable. During the binge, they experience a loss of control and shame. Afterward, they grapple with acute feelings of distress or guilt. However, unlike some other eating disorders, binge eating disorder is not accompanied by purging later, as is the case with bulimia. Binge eating disorder is alsoreferred to by the acronym BED.

What Causes BED?

We already went over some of the reasons that people develop eating disorders.The other reason behind most disordered eating is about control and looking for a release or relief. With binge eating disorder, it is often about looking for an escape from negative feelings. Just as someone might use drugs or alcohol, some people use food to change they feel.

Binge eating disorder can also be brought about because of an abusive relative or a peer group. Say that there is a girl in school who is overweight. She starves herself because she wants to lose weight, but she's not sure how. Her mother might occasionally make an offhand remark about her body that she finds hurtful. She will engage in late night binging as a result of these comments, feeling shame and guilt while she does so.

The same thing might take place if this person is in school and her eating habits are spoken of while she's sitting at the lunch table. A peer might ask her if she's on a diet, or there might be some general talk about her physical appearance. The idea might be to make fun of her, or it might even be in a much more casual way than that. She will not take it that way, though, and she will be mortified that observations are being made about her. She will probably respond to that with another one of these binging sessions when there is no one around to see her.


Who is Likely to Develop BED?

Virtually anyone can feel insecurity related to body image and disordered eating in general. It can happen regardless of age, gender, social status, or any other classification of people. People in high-profile jobs that you might think of as being extremely successful may have binge eating disorder.Also, just because a person appears to be in good shape does not necessarily mean that they are immune from binge eating issues.

The Binge Eating Disorder Quiz

If you feel like you might have a binge eating disorder but you're not entirely sure, then it can be helpful for you to take a quiz online that might give you some more information. Several websites offer such quizzes, including Theirs is a multiple-choice test where the answers range from "Never" to "Very Often." The questions are things like "Do you struggle to control when and how much you eat?" It does not take long, and then you get an assessment of whether you fit the criteria as having or possibly having a binge eating disorder. Be aware this is a screening and is not being scored by a professional. It is just a way for you to get some more information and help you decide if you want to seek further treatment or assessment from a professional, which is recommended if you have concerns about your eating habits or body image.

Seek Out an Eating Disorder Therapist

If you have or fear that you have an eating disorder, though, then you need to go beyond taking a quiz online. You can speak to your doctor and see if they can put you in touch with an eating disorder therapist. These are specialists who can talk to you about your problems with food and provide treatment so that you can recover. You do not have to start with your doctor if you are looking for an eating disorder specialist. You can search the internet and look for professionals in your area who specialize in eating disorders and you can also look to online therapy, such as BetterHelp for counseling. Also, The National Eating Disorders Association website has valuable resources as well that are available for anyone to access.

Eating Disorders Should Not Be Taken Lightly
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An eating disorder therapist will want to do more than talk about the disorder itself, which they will likely see as a symptom of an underlying condition. They will want to speak with you about feelings and thoughts that often lead to the binges. They will talk to you about your relationships with your family, your friends, classmates, or coworkers. They will discuss some of the situations where you feel the need to binge eat, and they will work alongside you to try and identify your primary triggers. They will then talk about some ways that you can modify your behavior and your thinking that should help you to establish a healthier relationship with food.

Self-Help Books

Your therapist might also suggest to you some reading material that you may find useful as you begin to work on your condition. Many helpful books have been written about binge eating disorder, some of them by academics, but some by authors who have gone through the same thing that you have. Many of them have practical advice that you can apply to your life, and some of them also have worksheets for you to complete. There might be a place for you to list any times during the day that you felt the need to overeat, for instance. During your therapy sessions, you can refer back to those worksheets as you start to see patterns that you need to break.

The Connection Between Depression and Binge Eating Disorder

You will also likely notice that there is a connection that can exist between people who are clinically depressed and those who have binge eating disorder. One might come before the other, but if you are experiencing the two together, then it can be particularly challenging for you. This is something that you will want to talk about with your therapist. If you have been diagnosed with clinical depression, and you also have a binge eating disorder, then your therapist might want you to schedule an appointment with a physician to see if medication could be helpful to you. If you feel less depressed and not as anxious, then you might not have the urge to overeat as much. Each situation is different, though, and where medication might be helpful for one person, that might not necessarily be the case for someone else.

Therapy Involving Your Family

Your family might be aware that you have a binge eating disorder, or they may not. The first that they might hear about it is when you seek help from your doctor or counselor. One of the primary reasons that many individuals don't want to seek advice for eating disorders is because they are embarrassed about what is happening with them. They feel like this is something that they should be able to control themselves, or that what is going on is not that serious.


Likely, the most difficult step for you is going to be the first one: being open with your family about what's happening in your life. It might be even tougher for you if it is one of your family members who sometimes makes comments about your weight or your physical appearance that makes you feel bad about yourself.

It might even be that some of your family members will need to be brought in to your therapy sessions at some juncture. They need to understand that things that they do and say matter to you, and they need to be your support network as you combat your condition.

Do You Need to Talk About a Binge Eating Disorder?

If you have a binge eating disorder or you fear that you have unhealthy eating habits or body image, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start. You can contact an online counselor at BetterHelp. This can be a good place to start and the counselor can help you come up with a plan and answer questions that you have. Your counselor may suggest that you could benefit from more intensive treatment or you and your counselor may agree that your needs can be met using the online platform offered by BetterHelp.

It is important that you reach out for help if you feel that you are binge eating or have any concerns about your eating patterns and your body image if it is negatively impacting your life. There is help. You do not have to continue to feel this way. You can get started right away, anywhere you have an internet connection and a smart phone, tablet, or computer.

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