Find the Best Binge Eating Treatment Programs and Dual Diagnosis Rehabs
“People with binge eating disorder feel a loss of control over their eating habits…”
Eating disorders distort a person’s relationship to food, which those with binge eating disorder know all too well. Binge eating disorder is clinically defined as frequent periods of rapid food consumption in a short time period, often followed by overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame. Those who binge eat 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 those who have it. Luckily, recognizing the symptoms and finding the right treatment program offer a chance to free oneself from cycles of compulsive binging.
What Is it?
It is important to distinguish binge eating disorder from other eating disorders. Many associate bulimia with binging, and people with bulimia do indeed binge; however, those who have binge eating disorder typically don’t vomit or use laxatives to rid their bodies of food like those with bulimia do. Rather, people who binge eat feel acute shame, remorse, and even disgust after their binges but don’t regurgitate or otherwise purge the food from their bodies. Often this post-binge depression 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, people who binge eat may become 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.
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 it. Genetics, environment, childhood experiences, and negative self-image all contribute to the compulsive desire to overeat.
Simply put, the reasons for binging are as unique as the person who engages in it. Some people binge due to 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 (NEDA), approximately 1 to 5% of the population has binge eating disorder, so there is a good chance that you know or have known someone with it in your social circle. Many people who binge eat feel isolated, but it is encouraging to note that there are many others getting help for 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% of those who binge eat are men. Unfortunately, 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.
Dual Diagnosis Therapy
Dual diagnosis therapy is based on the concept that substance abuse masks an underlying mental disorder. Many people who binge eat 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% of people who binge eater suffer from clinical depression. Treating both the eating and the mental disorder in tandem allows patients to gain valuable self-knowledge about 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 those who binge eater. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) 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 people with binge eating disorder 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 you from the stresses of everyday life. Within residential facilities, intensive therapy sessions as well as group sessions give you valuable time to heal and offer crucial peer support. These facilities often provide extended aftercare that helps you transition back to everyday life while following through on the work done throughout your stay.
Group Support and Self-Help
Self-help and group support are additional pathways to long-term success. Those in recovery from binge eating disorder may participate in group exercises, 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 their 5 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.