Find the Best Binge Eating Treatment Programs and Dual Diagnosis Rehabs
“Binge eaters also feel a loss of control over their eating habits…”
Eating disorders twist and mangle the sufferer’s relationship to food. Those afflicted with binge eating disorder know this spiral all too well. Binge eating is clinically defined as frequent periods of rapid food consumption often followed by guilt and shame. Binge eaters also feel a loss of control over their eating habits; the normal cycle of hunger and satiation gets replaced by an unstoppable compulsion to consume vast amounts of food.
The disorder takes a profound emotional and physical toll on sufferers of all shapes and sizes. Luckily, recognizing the symptoms and finding the right treatment program offer a chance to free oneself from compulsive binging for good.
Binge Eating Defined
It is important to distinguish binge eating disorder from other eating disorders. Many associate bulimia with binging, and bulimics do indeed binge; however, pure binge eaters typically don’t vomit or use laxatives to rid their bodies of food. Rather, binge eaters feel acute shame, remorse and even disgust after their binges without regurgitating or otherwise purging the food from their bodies. Often this terrible post-binge depression only leads to yet another binge, dovetailing into a spiral of compulsive eating and shame.
Binges vary from moderate overconsumption to eating thousands of calories in a single sitting. The aftereffects of binging manifest in both physical and mental symptoms. Mentally, binge eaters may become hopelessly depressed, wracked with guilt and filled with self-loathing for their behaviors. Physically, excess weight and destructive dietary choices may result in obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and musculoskeletal problems. The dual impact on the mind and body makes binge eating especially difficult to overcome alone.
Binge eating is also slightly different from food addiction in that food addiction may carry a physiological dependence on specific foods whereas binge eating is more indiscriminate.
Proposed Causes of Binge Eating
Like other mental illnesses, there is not a single agreed-upon cause for a binge eating disorder. Since the human brain and its emotions are so complex, a variety of factors eventually lead someone to binge. Genetics, environment, childhood experiences and self-image all contribute to the compulsive desire to overeat.
Simply put, the reasons for binging are as unique as each binge eater. Some binge due to undiagnosed underlying mental illnesses, some from intense stress, others as a way to grieve and so on. Because of the deeply personal nature of the illness, it is important to reach out for help to begin to self-reflect and gain insight into the psychological reasons behind the behavior. The path to recovery starts by recognizing there is a problem and choosing help instead of isolation.
You Are Not Alone
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, approximately 1 to 5 percent of the population suffers from binge eating disorder. There is a good chance that you know or have known a binge eater in your social circle. Many binge eaters feel isolated, but it is encouraging to note that there are many others fighting the illness who offer support and shared experience to those in recovery.
Also, despite popular belief, binge eating affects both genders. While women have a slightly higher tendency to binge, NEDA also reports that 40 percent of binge eaters are men. Tragically, men are often the last to seek help and take the emotional risk of therapy or support. If you are suffering from the disorder, the simple realization that you are not alone may literally save your life.
Which Treatment Is Right for You?
Once you have made the first and often the most difficult step of seeking help for binge eating, the search for the best treatment option begins. Which facility is right for you? What therapeutic approach is most successful? As stated before, binge eating is a deeply personal issue, so it follows that the ideal approach is just as personal. Today, there are treatment options to suit all personalities, backgrounds and schedules. Examining the merits of psychotherapy, medication, residential treatment and self-help support guides the way to making the most informed choice on your journey to health.
Psychological and Dual Diagnosis Therapy
Dual diagnosis therapy is based on the concept that substance abuse masks an underlying mental disorder. Many binge eaters use food to fill an emotional or psychological void, and this means they are in essence self-medicating. Consulting a dual diagnosis therapy center or cognitive behavioral therapist is a great option for getting to the root cause of binging.
Many binge eaters go into therapy believing food is their only problem but find that they suffer from other mental health issues, such as clinical depression or bipolar disorder. According to the UK National Health Service, it is estimated that 50 percent of binge eaters suffer from clinical depression. Treating both the eating and the mental disorder in tandem allows patients to gain valuable self-knowledge regarding their own tendencies and triggers. Some overcome their underlying diagnosis through talk therapy alone, and others with more severe disorders are referred to a psychiatrist for prescription medication.
Depending on the diagnosis, there are a number of medications that may help binge eaters. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors help alleviate underlying depression. Many find that a marked improvement in mood makes it easier to avoid food triggers. Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil may aid in curtailing depressive and obsessive feelings. While these are not always prescribed in addition to talk therapy, many binge eaters find that therapy and medication work best simultaneously.
Residential Treatment Facilities
All the aforementioned options may be undertaken on an outpatient basis; however, it may be more effective to enter an inpatient residential eating disorder facility for treatment. Much like inpatient alcohol and drug rehabilitation, these facilities provide a safe space that removes the patient from the stresses of everyday life. Within residential facilities, intensive therapy sessions, as well as group sessions, give patients valuable time to heal and offer crucial peer support. These facilities often provide extended aftercare for patients that helps them transition back to everyday life while following through on the work done throughout their stay.
Group Support and Self-Help
Self-help and group support are additional pathways to long-term success. Those in recovery from binge eating may participate in group exercise, 12-step recovery meetings and social organizations to support one another and share their binge eating stories. It is often said that a person is a reflection of her five best friends. In keeping with this dictum, group support seeks to create a new environment of health and emotional honesty. Self-help materials are passed around between peers in recovery, and these materials often give practical advice to help participants become and remain healthy. Methods vary greatly from group to group, but finding a circle of likeminded allies ensures you need not fight a binge eating disorder alone.