March 1 marks the end of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and in recognition of that fact, we wanted to showcase an unhealthy eating pattern that is all too often overlooked. Most people have a cursory knowledge of anorexia and bulimia, even if they still have some misconceptions about who is susceptible to these issues and how detrimental they can truly be. Compulsive overeating – or binge eating disorder – has only recently been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but eating disorder treatment centers in Florida have recognized and helped patients address this issue for years.
So what is binge eating disorder? The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) defines it as "a type of eating disorder that is characterized by recurrent binge eating without the regular use of compensatory measures to counter the binge eating."
In contrast to bulimia, which is characterized by an alternating pattern of binging and purging, this disorder consists only of compulsive episodes of excessive food consumption. This is often accompanied by intense feelings of guilt and shame. The NEDA notes that binge eating disorder often correlates with depressive symptoms as well.
Labeling it "the most common eating disorder you've never heard of," The Huffington Post covered binge eating in a recent piece, highlighting the distinctions between this condition and other examples of unhealthy eating habits. The source reports that, in addition to depression, research has shown a link between binge eating disorder and alcohol abuse, food restriction and excess stress.
In contrast to anorexia and bulimia, which are most likely to surface among adolescents and young adults (though people of all ages groups are susceptible), binge eating disorder is most prevalent among middle-aged women. But that doesn't mean that men are out of the picture. In fact, 40 percent of binge eaters are mail, the NEDA states.
If you or someone you love may be suffering from binge eating disorder, the specialists at an eating disorder treatment center may be able to help. At Fairwinds Treatment Center, we not only treat eating disorders themselves; we also specialize in dual diagnosis cases where multiple behavioral conditions such as drug addiction, anxiety and depression combine to fuel self-destructive behavior. Led by dual diagnosis pioneer Dr. Khaled El-Yousef and renowned eating disorder expert Dr. Pauline Powers, we employ a comprehensive and family-centric approach to treatment to help you regain control of your health and happiness.