Though Widespread, Binge Eating Disorder Often Misunderstood

By CRC Staff

Ask most people to describe an individual with an eating disorder, and they will probably be able to quickly summon images of ultra-thin fashion models, extremely skinny teen girls or emaciated adults.

Ask these same people to envision an overweight or obese person with an eating disorder, and you’ll likely be met with little more than a quizzical look.

But just as they can affect individuals of both genders and almost all ages, so, too, can eating disorders impact people with a wide range of weights and body shapes. Though eating disorder awareness efforts often focus attention on anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa — conditions that often result in dramatic (and dangerous) weight loss — not every disordered eater is obsessed with self-starvation.

Out of Control

For many people (estimates indicate perhaps as many as 3.5 percent of all women and 2 percent of men), eating is often an out-of-control experience in which the individual feels powerless to stop eating or even slow the rate at which they are ingesting food.

This behavior, which is referred to as “binge eating disorder,” may be triggered by stress, may be accompanied by extreme emotions and may inflict a considerable negative impact on a person’s physical health, mental well-being, personal relationships and social development.

It is important to understand that binge eating isn’t simply a matter of having one to many slices of pizza, or overdoing things at the dinner table during a Thanksgiving gathering.

People who suffer from binge eating disorder experience this problem on an ongoing recurring basis, often feel great shame over their behavior, and may withdraw from friends and family members in order to hide their inability to control how much or how fast they eat.

Diagnosing the Disorder

Though professionals have long recognized that some of their patients are not able to control how much or how quickly they eat, binge eating disorder has not appeared in the first four editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

However, with work currently underway on the fifth edition of this “bible of mental health professionals” (DSM-V is scheduled to be released in April 2013), it appears as though binge eating will be added to the upcoming version

It has been proposed that the DSM-V’s diagnosis of binge eating disorder should focus exhibiting at least three of the following five behaviors on an ongoing basis (for example, at least twice a week for six months or more):

1. Eating much more rapidly than normal

2. Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.

3. Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry.

4. Eating alone because of embarrassment over how much one is eating.

5. Feeling disgusted, depressed or extremely guilty after overeating.

Getting Help

If you or someone you care about has been exhibiting symptoms associated with binge eating disorder, know that help is available and recovery is within reach. For more information about Montecatini’s highly effective treatment programs for binge eating, other types of eating disorders, and related conditions, call 877-762-3753 or visit our contact us page today.