Binge eating disorder is classified in different ways by different specialists, but it will likely get its own formal definition in the forthcoming fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). It’s widely agreed upon that BED sufferers engage in overeating to the point of extreme discomfort even when they aren’t hungry. The behavior is commonly a coping mechanism in response to depression, stress, or anxiety. As a result, people diagnosed with BED are often obese and are plagued with the health dangers that accompany obesity, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
Luckily, help is available for people with BED. Most often, health care practitioners take a two-pronged approach when treating binge eating disorder. Psychiatrists and mental health therapists address the behavioral and emotional side of the illness while dietitians and, in extreme cases, general practitioners and other needed specialists deal with the physical problems. Many people battling eating disorders of all kinds never seek medical care out of shame or a simple lack of knowledge about their condition, but there are numerous success stories about people who overcome BED and come out of the experience happier and healthier. Don’t hesitate to contact a trusted health care professional if you’re concerned that you or a loved one may have problems with an eating disorder.
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Additional information came from the National Eating Disorders Association website (www.nationaleatingdisorders.org) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health (www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/binge-eating-disorder.cfm). Population data derived from U.S. Census Bureau statistics.