Binge Eating Disorder

Treating Eating Disorders – Binge Eating Disorder


Binge eating disorder (BED) or compulsive over-eating is a poorly understood eating disorder, thought to affect over a million suffers in the UK.

3ps-consultation Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is a serious mental illness, where sufferers compulsively consume abnormal amounts of food, seemingly unable to stop and with loss of control in one sitting.  A binge typically involves eating very fast, eating when a person is no longer hungry, eating alone or secretly and often in a pre-planned way, where a person may have bought large quantities of “special” food.


Sufferers report feelings of guilt, shame, and self-disgust after an episode of bingeing.  Unlike bulimia, binge eating disorder is not characterised by a purging or excessive exercise after a binge.  However, a sufferer may attempt to restrict their food intake, or to eat little afterwards, to compensate for the amount of food consumed.


Guidelines in the medical manual, The Diagnostic Statistical Manual, state that episodes of binge eating need to happen twice a week to warrant a diagnosis of Binge eating disorder (BED).  Binge Eating disorder typically starts in the late teens to early twenties, although it can occur at any age.  It is a chronic disease and can last for many years.


Like other eating disorders, Binge eating disorder is more common in women than in men.  However, it is now thought to be the most common eating disorder among men.


Although Binge eating disorder can occur in men and women of normal weight, it often leads to unwanted weight gain or obesity, which in itself can reinforce further episodes of compulsive eating.  The negative feelings which usually accompany a binge can often lead a sufferer to continue to use food as a way to cope with these painful emotional states, leading to further, entrenched binge/depressive cycles.



In addition to unwanted weight gain, Binge eating disorder has serious short-term and long-term effects physical effects.  These include:


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Insomnia and sleep apoenia
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Muscle and/or joint pain
  • Gastrointestinal difficulties
  • Depression/anxiety



What causes Binge Eating Disorder?


There is no one cause of Binge eating disorder or compulsive over-eating.  Experts believe a mixture of biological and environmental factors contribute to the condition.  However, eating disorders tend to run in families, often occurring when members are pre-occupied with food and weight.  In some cases, families inadvertently set the stage for eating disorders, offering food as a source of comfort, reward or nurture.


However, there is a strong co-relation between Binge eating disorder and depression and other psychological disorders such as anxiety, phobias, post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse.  There is also a strong link between abuse and the development of Binge eating disorder.


Binge eaters typically report feelings of depression.  Many report a sense of shame or self-hatred around the way they look, as well as their out-of-control food habits.  When someone is depressed and they binge eat, it can be hard to know if one condition causes the other or whether they are unrelated.  Medical experts believe about half of the population who suffer from a Binge eating disorder have a mood disorder such as depression.  Sufferers will then binge to number the sad and hopeless feelings.  The same genes involved in depression may play a role in eating disorders and anxiety, according to research from the University of Carolina.  They also found that Binge eating disorder may be linked to the same brain chemicals that affect depression too.


Help for Binge Eating Disorder


It is perfectly possible to recover from binge eating disorder and to have a healthy relationship with food and body image.  However, it is vital to get specialist help and to tackle the underlying emotional issues which underpin the condition.


Psychotherapy, with a trained therapist who specialises in eating disorders and addiction, can help a sufferer with some of the long-term issues such as depression, anxiety and low self-worth.  An experienced psychotherapist can help sufferers deal with childhood traumas – abuse, family separations, bullying – which still carry a negative effect in the present day.


Group therapy, including a 12-step support group such as Overeaters Anonymous, can be very useful for anyone suffering from an eating disorder.  Group support helps sufferers reduce the shame and isolation of a condition such as a Binge eating disorder, or compulsive over-eating.  It can provide momentum and on-going support for anyone beginning to make changes in their relationship with food and emotions.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (“CBT”) can be useful in helping sufferers understand the thoughts and feelings which influence their behaviours around food.  Most specialist psychotherapists will offer some CBT in their work with eating disorder sufferers.  It is always important to ask a therapist what approaches they offer.


It may be that some nutritional changes are required.  Whilst recovery from Binge eating disorder and compulsive overeating is not about the right diet, there are certain foods which may be useful to eliminate.  Salty, fatty, and sugary foods and combinations of all three activate the dopamine neurons in the brain, producing feelings of pleasure and the impulse to eat those all over again.  The same is thought to be true of refined carbohydrates – white bread, pastries, dough-based foodstuffs.


Some sufferers find it useful to cut out completely these sorts of foods, while they are settling into a pattern of recovery.  Sometimes it is possible to re-introduce these foods in moderation.   A trained therapist will help you identify which foods are triggers for you and to determine, if and how these can be incorporated into a recovery plan.

recovery-consultation Binge Eating Disorder

It may also be necessary to look at patterns with alcohol and drugs – both recreational and prescription drugs.  Many sufferers with eating disorders have a dependency on alcohol and/or substances.  It is crucial that co-occurring addictions are treated alongside the eating disorder, or the sufferer will soon fall back into disordered ways of eating.


However, it is important to remember that many people suffering with Binge eating disorder or compulsive overeating do recover.  If you or a friend/family member are struggling with Binge eating, compulsive overeating, bulimia or anorexia, please get in touch with Help 4 Addiction.


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    Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

    The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

    Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

    • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
    • Lorazepam (Ativan)
    • Diazapam (vailium)

    Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

    There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

    • Naltrexone
    • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
    • Nalmefene
    • Acamprosate (campral)

    Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

    There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

    Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

    A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

    Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

    The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

    Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

    Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

    Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

    *based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

    There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

    If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

    If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

    Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

    How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

    There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

    Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

    There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

    Local treatment

    Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

    Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

    Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

    Treatment Away

    Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

    As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

    When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

    There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

    Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

    There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

    Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

    Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

    Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

    Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

    Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

    Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

    How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

    The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

    Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

    Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

    Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

    You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

    The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

    There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.