When we have a health concern, most of us search the internet for information related to it. Ringing or buzzing in the ears? Maybe that’s tinnitus. Pain near your right rib cage? Maybe that’s the gallbladder. The internet can yield more information, so you can narrow down what might or might not be the reason for what ails you. You then take this information and your symptoms to the doctor…without feeling shame.
Some people though know that they might be experiencing something that has a negative impact on their well-being, but they feel shameful about it. They might not even turn to the internet for help for fear that their search will somehow be found out. Going to the doctor is out of the question.
Eating disorders, such as bulimia, rumination, pica, and anorexia nervosa, can be that “something” that keeps people from seeking help because of shame and misunderstanding. In this article, we’ll talk about another eating disorder–binge eating disorder also known as BED.
What is Binge Eating Disorder?
Binge eating disorder is defined as eating large quantities of food, where one feels they do not have control while they binge eat. Binge eating is not an isolated incident and can reoccur many times. This disorder can lead to feelings of guilt and shame and can even be life threatening.
Binge eating disorder affects more women than men. This disorder usually presents in the late teens or early 20s; yet, anyone at any age can develop this disorder.
How is Someone Diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder?
To be diagnosed with binge eating disorder, symptoms must be present for at least three months with a binging episode happening at least once a week. Some of those symptoms are listed below:
- Feeling out of control when binge eating
- Eating large quantities of food within a certain period of time
- eating alone during a binge eating episode
- Eating to the point of discomfort
- Recurring binge eating episodes
- Experiencing negative emotions after the binge eating episode (ex. shame, guilt, or depression)
- Not engaging in negative or extreme behavior to counteract the binge eating episode (ex. excessive dieting or exercising)
An online binge eating disorder test can be a productive starting point for determining if one should seek help. It’s important to remember that an online test cannot give a diagnosis. Only a professional with expertise and experience in eating disorders can diagnose binge eating disorder.
What Are Some Other Signs and Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder?
In addition to the symptoms listed above, there are other symptoms and signs that could indicate binge eating disorder. Some of these are as follows:
- Isolating from family and friends
- Having fluctuations in weight
- Focusing on weight and body in an extreme manner
- Eating despite not being hungry
- Experiencing low self-esteem
As mentioned above, if a person thinks they have an eating disorder, they should discuss this with their doctor. Their doctor can then point them in the right direction to get the proper help needed for a diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment Options for Binge Eating Disorder
When someone is diagnosed with a binge eating disorder, it’s important to seek treatment. Trying to manage this disorder on one’s own can be daunting and could lead to feelings of failure and hopelessness. Below are some treatment options that can help a person manage this disorder.
Seeing a qualified therapist who specializes in eating disorders can be an effective way to learn skills in the management of this disorder. A therapist will usually employ cognitive behavioral therapy. With this type of therapy, a therapist helps the client connect the negative thoughts that lead to the negative behaviors. A client will then learn to recognize these thoughts and replace them with positive ones that lead to positive behaviors.
Inpatient treatment facilities might be needed for those who need to be taken out of their environment, so they can fully concentrate on healing from their disorder. With this type of treatment, a client has group and individual therapy. Outpatient treatment is also an option. Group and individual therapy are still part of the recovery process, but the client lives at home and travels to and from the treatment facility.
Another option is attending a support group. These are usually free and can offer routine support when attended regularly. There are even apps that one can download on their phone, so a person can reach out for support whenever they need it rather than waiting for the next support group meeting.
Feelings of shame and disgust can prevent many of us from seeking the help we need to manage a binge eating disorder. Yet, there is a lot of support for people with this disorder–no judgment, no shaming and no blaming. Acceptance, love, encouragement and hope are waiting for those of us who are ready to heal from a binge eating disorder.