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Binge Eating Disorder
Binge Eating Disorder
What Does Binge Eating Disorder Look Like?
GoodMenProject.com recently published an article titled, “We All Know About Anorexia, but Can We Talk a Bit About Binge Eating Disorder?” The article (https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/we-all-know-about-anorexia-but-can-we-talk-a-bit-about-binge-eating-disorder/)begins by mentioning that while the stereotypical image of an eating disorder may lead people to think otherwise, eating disorders can be found in all individuals regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, or sexuality. The authors of this piece explain that LGBTQ+ individuals may be more susceptible to developing eating disorders because of minority stress and gender dysphoria.
The authors of this article discuss the troublesome misconceptions of eating disorders and specifically, binge eating disorder (BED) by providing links to images depicting individuals with BED making glorified, excited facial expressions at delicious looking food, when in reality, BED is a very distressing and exhausting condition. BED has been described in medical literature since the 1950s, but was first considered a formal diagnosis in the DSM-5 (2013). Key features of BED include episodes of overeating while feeling a lack of control and eating more rapidly, feeling uncomfortably full, eating when not hungry, eating alone, and/or feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty about eating behaviors. A unique aspect of BED compared to other eating disorders is that individuals do not engage in compensatory strategies (i.e. purging or restricting) following binges.
How Common Is Binge Eating Disorder And What Treatments Are Available?
Research has revealed that while often unrecognized and underreported, BED is as common, if not more common, than other eating disorders, estimated to be affecting 1.2% of adults and 1.32% of adolescents. GoodMenProject.com cites previous research conducted by Fellitti (1998), that found a strong tie between individuals who experienced adverse childhood experiences and psychopathology later in life. Recent studies have found that children who experienced childhood traumas such as, violence, food neglect, or food insecurity, have a greater risk of developing BED.
The authors of the GoodMenProject.com article explain that since individuals with BED refrain from engaging in compensatory behaviors after binging, they often struggle with obesity, which can lead to conditions such as cardiovascular conditions and diabetes. In studies of adults in the U.S., 70% of people with BED reported a lifetime comorbid diagnosis of depression, 59% reported an anxiety disorder; 68% reported a substance use disorder; and 22.9% had attempted suicide. Studies of U.S. youth between the ages of 13-18, 45.3% of youth diagnosed with BED have a comorbid diagnosis: 65.2% reported an anxiety disorder, 26.8% reported a substance use disorder, 12.6 % met criteria for ADHD, 32.8% reported oppositional defiant disorder, and 28.5% met criteria for conduct disorder. Furthermore, the authors explain that adolescents with BED are 5 times more likely to attempt suicide compared to healthy individuals.
The gold standard treatment for BED is CBT, involving strategies such as psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring, effective coping strategies, and food intake monitoring. Individuals with BED may also benefit from psychiatric medication to reduce binge frequency and associated distress as well as medical evaluation and intervention to treat obesity. If you or someone close to you is experiencing binge eating disorder or other disordered eating, you can use ABCT’s find a therapist feature to find a CBT clinician: https://services.abct.org/find-a-therapist/.
Arielle Snow, M.A., Ph.D. Candidate in Clinical Psychology at Hofstra University