Binge Eating Disorder Treatment

Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms

Binge eating disorder (BED) affects approximately 1.2% of the American population, making it one of the most common eating disorders. However, binge eating disorder symptoms are often overlooked or ignored, and treatment is often delayed. Binge eating symptoms are often found in those with depression, and some other co-occurring disorders. With early recognition and treatment, someone struggling with this complex eating disorder has an improved chance of recovery. In 2013 BED was recognized as an eating disorder diagnosis in the DSM 5, the mental health diagnosis guide for clinicians. In the early version of this guide, binge eating disorder symptoms were mentioned only in an appendix. Even at that time therapists recognized the unique nature of BED, and over 1000 research studies had documented the constellation of symptoms that make it a distinct diagnosis, as opposed to a form of the umbrella diagnosis EDNOS (eating disorders not otherwise specified.)

Recognizing Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms

The binge eating symptoms and behaviors associated with binge eating disorder have specific criteria. In order to meet the formal medical definition (diagnosis) of a binge eating disorder, the following binge eating disorder symptoms must be present:
  • Recurrent and persistent episodes of bingeing
  • Significant distress related to binge eating disorder symptoms must be present
  • Absence of an compensatory behaviors, such as purging or extreme exercising
  • Three or more of the following must be present:
    • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling hungry
    • Eating much more rapidly than would be considered normal
    • Eating until an uncomfortable feeling of fullness is experienced
    • Eating alone because of embarrassment of the amount of food that is eaten
    • Depression, self-disgust, or depression over the bingeing
As opposed to bulimia, someone with binge eating disorder does not vomit, use laxatives, fast, or have extreme exercise routines following a binge episode.

Chronic Problems that Can Develop When Binge Eating Symptoms Persist

Many significant health problems can develop when persistent binge eating symptoms are not treated. Among the most common issues that are seen in untreated binge eating disorder symptoms are:
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure), even in younger individuals (which in turn can lead to kidney damage)
  • Diabetes
  • Elevated cholesterol in the blood, that can lead to heart attack or strokes
In addition, obesity causes stress on the joints, particularly in the hips, knees, ankles. This can cause inflammation and wear and tear within these joints and over time will lead to a type of arthritis (osteoarthritis). Another common chronic condition found in someone with long-term binge eating symptoms is GERD (gastric esophageal reflux disorder), which refers to the backing up of stomach acid into the esophagus. While the stomach has a protective coating to protect it from acid, the swallowing tube (esophagus) of the body does not, and the acid eats into the tissue causing damage and pain. Clients receiving treatment for binge eating disorder at The Highlands work closely with their primary therapist, dietitian, our staff physician, and nurse, in order to resolve any underlying issues that led to BED, and also manage and treat chronic medical conditions that may be present. Due to the complexities of the binge cycle, a very individualized treatment plan is necessary. Family and friends who recognize binge eating disorder symptoms in a loved one can be a source of encouragement and support in seeking appropriate treatment. The Highlands is here to expertly answer questions and provide compassionate assistance to clients and families struggling with BED.