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What is binge eating disorder?

Binge eating disorder (BED) is a highly under-recognised but serious condition characterised by frequent bouts of uncontrolled eating, followed by psychological reactions like guilt.

It is one of the most common disorders in the young adult population.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

A person suffering from this condition consumes greater than normal amounts of food in short intervals. Following this, they usually feel stressed, guilty or angry at themselves for doing so.

Other symptoms include:

  • Eating until one is uncomfortable
  • Eating extremely fast
  • Avoiding meals with others due to shame, and being secretive about one’s food consumption.
  • Eating during times of stress, anxiety or anger, and feeling guilty after binge eating

The condition is more common in females than males and affects people in their twenties to thirties more than other age groups.

What are its main causes?

Since binge eating is based on behavioural and psychological factors, the exact causes cannot be generalised, but risk factors are identified.

  • Obesity is strongly linked to binge eating since about 30% of those having BED are obese. This is cyclic since weight issues can be a cause as well as a complication of this condition.
  • Genetic build-up: Researchers believe that people having high dopamine levels in the brain resort to binge eating since they are more sensitive to dopamine and the feelings of reward and pleasure are heightened in them.

Psychological conditions like stress, depression, loneliness and self-esteem issues are strong factors which cause individuals to turn to food to feel good.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

The diagnosis of BED depends primarily on the patient’s willingness to admit that there is a problem.

  • Based on the behaviour of an individual and their responses to uncomfortable situations, an expert can identify the disorder.
  • A person’s dietary patterns, food habits and body weight can also aid in identifying the condition.

The treatment for binge eating disorder is a combination of psychological therapy, counselling, weight loss exercises and medicines.

  • Through cognitive behavioural therapy, an expert aims to identify the triggers that lead a person to binge eat. This means identifying what causes the feelings of stress, anxiety or anger in a patient.
  • If binge eating is a coping mechanism for a particular situation, counselling sessions can be helpful to tackle the situation.
  • Through weight loss therapy, a person’s self-esteem and body image issues can be improved.
  • Anti-depressants can be given to the patient, in combination with these therapies, to improve their mental health. A structured eating pattern including dietary modifications is also beneficial.
  1. Medicines for Binge Eating Disorder
  2. Doctors for Binge Eating Disorder
Dr. Anil Kumar

Dr. Anil Kumar

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Dr. Ajay Kumar Vashishtha

Dr. Ajay Kumar Vashishtha

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Dr. Amar Golder

Dr. Amar Golder

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Dr. Arvind Gautam

Dr. Arvind Gautam

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References

  1. Guerdjikova AI, Mori N, Casuto LS, McElroy SL. Binge Eating Disorder. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2017 Jun;40(2):255-266. PMID: 28477651
  2. National Institute of Mental Health [Internet] Bethesda, MD; Eating Disorders. National Institutes of Health; Bethesda, Maryland, United States
  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Binge Eating Disorder. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. [internet].
  4. Brownley KA, Berkman ND, Peat CM, Lohr KN, Cullen KE, Bann CM1, Bulik CM. Binge-Eating Disorder in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2016 Sep 20;165(6):409-20. PMID: 27367316
  5. Kimberly A. Brownley, Nancy D. Berkman, Jan A. Sedway, Kathleen N. Lohr, Cynthia M. Bulik. Binge eating disorder treatment: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. 16 March 2007, Volume40, Issue4
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