Binge eating disorder affects about 2% of the world’s population with a higher prevalence than females. This disorder is characterized by episodes of bulimia and feelings of guilt about one’s own eating behavior occurring at least once a week for 3 months. Currently, bulimia is treated with psychotherapy and medication.
What is an eating disorder?
Binge Eating Disorder is also known as bulimia and bulimia. It is classified as an eating disorder and was recognized as an official diagnosis in 2013.
Binge-eating disorder is characterized by binge eating that leads to the ingestion of large amounts of food. Soon after, the person will develop feelings of guilt, shame, and grief. However, the patient does NOT perform compensatory behaviors for excessive eating such as fasting, intense exercise, self-induced vomiting, etc., such as Bulimiac bulimia or bulimia.
Binge eating occurs at least once a week for 3 consecutive months. This condition is a direct threat to health and can be fatal if not treated promptly. Statistically, bulimia is the most common form of eating disorder in the United States.
It affects about 2% of the world’s population, which includes 1.6% of females and 0.5% of adolescent males. This suggests that the disease mainly affects adolescents and young adults. In particular, children and the elderly very rarely suffer from eating disorders.
Signs of an eating disorder
Binge eating disorder has fairly obvious symptoms. In addition to behavioral manifestations, patients also show signs of emotional and physical abnormalities.
As mentioned, bulimia is characterized by excessive cravings for food – even when the patient is not hungry himself. This feeling makes the person tolerating a large amount of food and not being able to control the binge eating behavior. Soon after, the patient fell into a state of shame, sadness, and grief.
Similar to other mental disorders, bulimia has emotional, behavioral, and physical manifestations:
1. Emotional and behavioral signs
Unlike physiological cravings, bulimia is not only characterized by bulimia, but also causes suffering, shame, and guilt. If you pay attention, the patient himself and the people around him easily recognize abnormal symptoms such as:
- Tolerating large amounts of food in a short time. Patients may not eat directly in front of others. However, people living together will easily notice many empty food packaging and containers inside the trash.
- Eating faster than usual and unable to control cravings. The patient’s favorite foods are usually sweets and fatty foods that can cause weight gain.
- In addition to being unable to control cravings, the patient has no control over how much food has been tolerated and what is being eaten. This is a distinctive feature compared to people with normal eating habits.
- Patients with bulimia are afraid of being scrutinized and feel ashamed about their eating habits. As a result, they are often uncomfortable eating with others.
- Get in the habit of hoarding food at home, work and always have food in your pocket.
- After tolerating large amounts of food, patients experience feelings of self-loathing, guilt, shame, and pessimism.
- Paying too much attention to weight and body shape. Patients think that they have an unbalanced body and always think that they have to lose weight and diet continuously.
- Patients spend a lot of time looking in the mirror to assess their physique and shortcomings.
- Patients with bulimia often have a higher than normal weight. Meanwhile, people with anorexia nervosa are often thin and weak.
2. Physical symptoms
Somatic symptoms are often caused by binge eating behaviors (intolerance of large amounts of food despite not being truly hungry). Among the common symptoms include:
- Body weight is always higher than average
- Stomach pain, gastric reflux, diarrhea, digestive disorders, etc.
- Discomfort after eating (due to unbearably fullness)
- Stretch marks due to rapid weight gain
Usually, we can eat more on special occasions. Then, make an effort to exercise and diet to get in shape. This is a completely normal reaction, not a pathology.
Meanwhile, people with binge eating disorder repeat binge eating at least once a week for three consecutive months. In addition, patients are constantly faced with feelings of shame, depression, pessimism, despair, and even self-loathing.
Causes of bulimia nervosa
The causes of eating disorders in general and bulimia in particular are still unknown. However, because the disease occurs mainly in females during adolescence and early adulthood, it is thought to be related to psychosocial factors.
Here are some of the identified causes and factors associated with bulimia:
- Genetics: Mental disorders can be inherited, including binge eating disorder. Many studies show that people with this disease have an increased sensitivity to dopamine released when eating. As a result, they often have no control over their binge eating behavior. The risk is increased if grandparents, parents, and siblings have been diagnosed with binge eating disorder.
- Strict view of beauty: Women are at high risk of bulimia. The reason is related to the strict requirements of society on body shape. In most countries, women always have to keep their body slim and neat. Meanwhile, men are less bound by concepts of beauty and aesthetics.
- Abnormal brain structure: Many studies show that, abnormal brain structure makes patients lack self-control and more sensitive to hormones released when eating. This is the reason why patients overeat and cannot control their own behavior.
- Being overweight or obese: More than 50% of bulimia patients are overweight and obese. In which, about 20% of people have a need for liposuction to lose weight and own a slim and attractive body. Excess weight makes patients care more about their appearance and always think that they need surgery and diet to have a balanced physique.
- Psychological trauma: Similar to other mental disorders, bulimia often flares up after trauma such as death of a loved one, abuse, car accident, abandonment, abuse, etc. … After psychological trauma, the patient eats excessively to seek pleasure. However, when the weight is exceeded, the person feels guilty about his or her extreme eating behavior. In addition, being ostracized and bullied by the council due to physique and weight are also favorable factors leading to bulimia.
- Having other psychological diseases: Overeating is considered an unhealthy form of emotional release. This condition is seen in patients with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder. However, there are also patients who develop anorexia nervosa.
- Nature of work: People who do jobs that value appearance such as models, singers, actors, etc. will have a higher risk of developing binge eating disorder. Because the nature of their profession makes them overly obsessed with the body. Moreover, excessive dieting for a long time also makes it difficult for them to control their appetite and tend to overeat.
Until now, the cause of bulimia is still unknown. However, experts have found that the disease often flares up after prolonged or severe stress – especially events related to weight and appearance (bullying for being obese, being dumped by a boyfriend for being overweight). unattractive body,…).
Is binge eating disorder dangerous?
Binge eating disorder is a serious mental illness that requires early diagnosis and treatment. People with this condition do not directly cause self-destructive or suicidal behaviors. However, bulimia will cause patients to face many health problems.
Tolerating a large amount of food in a short time causes the patient to face many digestive problems such as indigestion, digestive disorders, constipation, etc. In the long run, extreme eating habits will lead to diseases. chronic conditions such as acid reflux, peptic ulcer disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and fatty liver.
Untreated bulimia can increase the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, blood fats, anemia, etc. In addition, guilt, shame and self-loathing after each binge It can develop into depression, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder.
Patients tend to live aloof and isolated from the community because they always want to hide their binge eating behavior. Moreover, because they are too concerned about their body shape, patients often lack confidence and are afraid to meet. In the long term, the quality of life is severely reduced, patients completely lose their ability to work and study, and tend to depend on their families.
Diagnosis of bulimia nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is easily confused with anorexia nervosa. In 2013, it was recognized as an official diagnosis in the DSM-5 (5th Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Similar to other eating disorders, bulimia is diagnosed based on clinical symptoms. The disease is diagnosed when the following 5 criteria are met:
Episodes of binge eating are repeated and each episode must have two of the following characteristics:
Not being able to control cravings leads to not knowing what you are eating and how much food you have tolerated.
Tolerating a much larger amount of food than other people in similar circumstances.
During the binge eating phase, the patient has at least 3 of the following characteristics:
- Tolerating large amounts of food despite not feeling hungry
- Eat faster than usual
- Eat continuously until you are too full and can’t eat anymore
- Often eats alone because he feels embarrassed when others find out about his binge eating behavior
- After bouts of bulimia, patients experience feelings of guilt, depression, and even self-loathing
In addition to the above 2 criteria, the diagnosis of bulimia is also based on the following 3 criteria:
- Persistent anxiety related to binge eating habits
- Binge eating occurs frequently, on average once a week for 3 months
- Weight is usually higher than average
Based on the frequency of symptoms, the doctor can diagnose the health problem that the patient has and the extent of the disease. With early and proper treatment, binge eating disorder can be completely controlled.
Treatments for binge eating disorder
Binge eating disorder is not only a condition for the development of psychological problems but also an increase in physical diseases. Therefore, patients need active treatment to protect their health and prevent complications of this disease.
The treatment plan will depend on the cause and severity of the condition. In general, however, treatment will help patients change binge eating behaviors, improve fitness, and take care of their mental health. After treatment, the patient will know how to maintain a healthy and scientific lifestyle.
Treatments for binge eating disorder:
Psychotherapy is the mainstay of the treatment of bulimia. This method helps patients learn to control the feeling of binge eating, build a scientific diet and reduce concerns about weight and body shape.
In general, psychotherapy is highly effective in treating eating disorders in general and bulimia in particular. Besides, this method also helps patients improve communication problems and increase interaction with people around.
Currently, the two most commonly applied psychotherapy methods are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interactive individual psychotherapy (IPT). In addition, a number of other measures can also be taken at the same time to support the treatment process:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is currently the most commonly applied psychotherapy method. This method is carried out in 4-5 months (about 20 sessions) with the aim of helping patients control the feeling of binge eating, reduce interest in body shape, weight and be motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle. strong. If necessary, the specialist may order long-term therapy to prevent recurrence of the disease.
- Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT): IPT is often used when cognitive behavioral therapy is not possible. The goal of this method is to improve communication, increase the patient’s interaction with those around him. In addition, IPT helps patients overcome psychological barriers, thereby maintaining a suitable diet and controlling feelings of binge eating.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT is performed with the aim of regulating the patient’s emotions. Because this therapy was developed based on the concept that bulimia is a reaction after facing traumatic events and negative experiences. DBT helps patients learn to regulate emotions and increase stress tolerance.
- Weight loss therapy: Most patients with binge eating disorder are overweight or obese, and only a small number of patients maintain a healthy weight. This therapy helps patients increase self-esteem, reduce excessive concern about body shape, and change binge eating behavior. Through weight loss therapy, patients can lead a healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight.
Depending on each specific case, the expert will choose the appropriate approach. In which, cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy are the two methods that bring the best results.
2. Drug use
Medication is not the first choice in the treatment of bulimia. Because there is no medicine that can stop bulimia and feelings of shame and guilt However, medications can be used to lift moods and ease negative emotions.
Medications used to treat binge eating disorder:
- Antidepressants (primarily selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
- Antiepileptic drugs (most commonly lisdexamfetamine, topiramate)
In case of concomitant anxiety and depressive disorders, other medications may be required. Because medication is the main method for these diseases. Currently, many bulimia patients receive antidepressant medication during therapy to provide emotional and mental support.
3. Self-improvement measures
Binge eating disorder seriously affects health and psychology. Besides, this disease also causes a decline in quality of life, especially work and study performance, and narrowing of social relationships.
Currently, the treatment methods applied are quite effective. However, patients should still perform some other methods to optimize effectiveness. Here are some self-improvement measures patients can take:
- Keep a journal to release your emotions and learn how to share with friends and family.
- Meditate, practice yoga every day.
- Choose healthy foods that are good for your mental and physical health.
- Build a regular exercise routine to control your weight and ease anxiety and depression.
- Make sure to sleep on time, get enough sleep and limit staying up late.
- Work and rest in moderation to prevent stress.
Binge eating disorder is one of the most common eating disorders. Although the cause is unknown, it can be treated with medication and psychotherapy. In addition to medical methods, patients also need a reasonable care plan to overcome this disease easily.