Karen* dreaded going to see her doctor for her yearly exam. He had told her last year that he wanted her to lose weight. She had tried and tried over the last year, but the more she attempted to lose weight the more she binged at night. She was too ashamed to tell her doctor what was happening. She felt hopeless, alone, desperate and misunderstood.
Karen has binge eating disorder and similar to many individuals with this disorder, her symptoms are misdiagnosed and mis-treated. Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder, and yet it is the most misunderstood and undiagnosed of all the eating disorders.
An estimated 2.8 million individuals in the United States have Binge Eating Disorder, which was recognized as a formal diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2013. Similar to Karen, only 3% of individuals with Binge Eating Disorder have been appropriately diagnosed, which suggests that only a small portion of individuals with this eating disorder are getting appropriate treatment.
Binge Eating Disorder is defined by frequent binge eating episodes, which consist of consumption of large amounts of food in a short period of time and experiencing a sense of loss of control related to the binge. Similar to Karen, individuals with Binge Eating Disorder experience shame related to their binge-eating episodes, which often prevents them from seeking appropriate treatment. Individuals with this disorder often try to get help at weight loss or diet centers, or even at bariatric surgery centers. In fact, approximately 30% of individuals who seek assistance through weight loss centers meet criteria for Binge Eating Disorder. Dieting has not been found to be effective with this eating disorder, and some research that shows that dieting actually makes binge eating symptoms worse! Therefore, many individuals with this eating disorder are seeking treatment that makes their binge eating disorder become more severe!
The good news is that effective treatment exists. Binge eating treatment centers are available that can help clients get to the underlying issues that fuel their binge eating symptoms and help clients develop a healthy relationship with food. In choosing an eating disorder treatment center, it is important to make sure that the center has expertise in binge eating disorder. Teams who treat eating disorders should have an understanding of medical complications, metabolic differences, meal plan needs, movement considerations, and medication options specific to binge eating disorder. Eating disorder treatment centers that treat this disorder should also have provisions for individuals of all body sizes. A significant percentage of individuals with eating disorders are in larger bodies. Eating disorder treatment centers should provide seating options, sleeping accommodations, and movement provisions for individuals of all body types.
If you or someone you love is like Karen and struggling with Binge Eating Disorder, you are not alone. There is help available. You can call Alsana’s eating disorder treatment centers at (888) 822-8938 and speak with a master’s- level clinician, who can help you get the treatment you need to achieve recovery from Binge Eating Disorder.
*The names in this blog are fictional and do not represent a specific individual.
Nicole Siegfried, Ph.D, CEDS
Chief Clinical Officer