Woman eating with friends

Binge Eating: Causes, Signs, and Treatment

Individuals may engage in destructive eating habits as a way to deal with stress, anxiety, or depression. Binge eating disorder (BED) centers around compulsive overeating and the consumption of abnormally large portions of food. Individuals with BED are usually unable to stop eating because they experience a loss of control. Symptoms can worsen and the risk of developing long-term medical complications can increase without individualized treatment for binge eating disorder.

BED: Basics

Episodes of BED typically occur about twice a week for half a year. Individuals with BED likely have a related co-morbid disorder like anxiety or depression. They may struggle with disgust and guilt for their lack of control when it comes to eating. BED can eventually lead to unwanted weight gain and obesity. When this happen, individuals could be indirectly driven to further their compulsive eating habits as a coping mechanism. This way, BED presents in a vicious and destructive cycle difficult for an individual to break without support and therapy.

BED: Causes

Many factors are believed to influence the development of BED. Risk and severity of symptoms increase depending on the incidence of these factors.

Biological – Biological factors include abnormalities like irregular hormone levels or genetic mutations. These could result in food addiction and compulsive overeating.

Psychological – There is a significant correlative relationship between binge eating and depression. The likelihood of binge eating increases when an individual experiences difficulty coping with feelings, low self-esteem, and body dissatisfaction. In addition, traumatic situations like a history of abuse con contribute to the risk of BED.

Social and Cultural – Emotional eating can be driven by societal pressures to maintain a certain body type. Individuals may engage in destructive eating behaviors when they feel intense pressure to subscribe to society’s unrealistic and unfounded standards for the ideal body type and weight.

BED: Signs and Symptoms

Stress eating with junkfoods

Individuals with BED often try to hide their symptoms for fear of embarrassment or shame.

There are both behavioral and emotional signs for BED. These include continuing to eat when full, the inability to stop or control eating, and hoarding food to eat at a later time. Individuals may use eating as a way to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. They may disengage and feel a lack of sensation during their binges.

Unfortunately, BED can result in physical, social, and emotional problems that have a lasting impact. Destructive eating behaviors can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, insomnia, and gallbladder disease.

BED: Treatment

The most effective way to deal with BED is with professional support and treatment. This may involve psychiatrists, nutritionists, and therapists.

The main goal should be to address the underlying reasons behind destructive eating habits. Focusing on addressing the emotional triggers that lead to binge eating can help individuals establish healthy coping mechanisms when they have to face stress, anxiety, and depression. Specific plans for treating BED include cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and dialectical behavior therapy. These strategies differ in terms of the aspect of an individual’s life that is most relevant to the disorder.

The chances of a successful recovery often increase when backed by group therapy sessions or eating disorder support groups. These recovery strategies can reduce the likelihood of a relapse.

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