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Binge-Eating Disorder

Binge-Eating Disorder Causes

The exact cause of binge-eating disorder is not known, but the following factors may play a role: biological or genetic vulnerability affecting the appetite; psychological and emotional characteristics related to low self-worth and compulsive tendencies; and sociocultural factors that cultivate a desire for thinness.

Binge-Eating Disorder Definition

Binge-eating disorder is characterized by a compulsion to frequently overeat. In people with binge-eating disorder, the gorging becomes a regular ritual, shrouded in shame, secrecy, and feelings of self-loathing. Bing-eating is also alternatively known as compulsive overeating.

Binge-Eating Disorder Diagnosis

To date, binge-eating disorder has not been officially classified as a mental disorder. Some experts believe it is a form of bulimia, while others think it is a distinct entity. Diagnostic tests to determine binge-eating disorder are similar to those of other forms of eating disorder, including: a standard physical exam to check vital signs and measure height and weight; laboratory tests to check cholesterol levels; psychological evaluation to determine the patient's mental and emotional wellbeing; as well as other studies to determine any health consequences of the disorder.

Binge-Eating Disorder Symptoms and Signs

The primary symptom of binge-eating disorder is the regular occurrence of a “binge”, an episode wherein the affected person eats huge amounts of food in one sitting. Individuals who regularly “binge” eat more food than most people under similar situations. Typically, there are no physical signs of binge-eating disorder. Some patients are overweight, while others maintain normal weight. However, there are a number of emotional and behavioral symptoms associated with binge-eating disorder, including: eating large amounts of food even when full; eating rapidly during binges; feeling loss of control over one's eating behavior; depression and anxiety; frequent dieting without weight loss; hoarding food; frequently eating alone; and feeling of self-loathing and disgust following a binge episode.

Binge-Eating Disorder Treatment

In treating binge-eating disorder, the main goal is to decrease binge episodes, improve overall emotional wellbeing, and, when necessary, reduce the patient's weight. Psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy are some of the approaches used to address the patient's low self worth and improve his/her perception of self. Some patients may also be given antidepressants to curb their binging compulsions.

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