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Binge Eating to Become an Official Mental Disorder

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
2/17/2010 5:13 PM   :  150 comments   :  20,006 Views

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has just released a preliminary draft of the revisions planned for it’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This is the manual that medical and mental health professionals use to determine when individuals are suffering from a mental illness, rather than a temporary emotional or situational problem. It’s also used by insurance companies to determine which illnesses and treatments they will cover.

The new Manual (DSM 5) will include binge eating as a distinct eating disorder, alongside anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, which have been included in previous editions of the DSM.

Does this mean that, if you sometimes have trouble stopping after two or three cookies or a few slices of pizza, you’ve got a clinical eating disorder? Probably not. Binge Eating Disorder has some very specific characteristics, and involves a persistent, frequent, and very upsetting pattern of overeating that goes well beyond the occasional “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” situation that we’re all familiar with.

You can see the official diagnostic criteria for Binge Eating Disorder here. One of the main characteristics of a binge eating episode is feeling out of control—like you literally can’t stop eating or control what or how much you eat during that episode, even though you know you’re not hungry and feel very bad about the overeating.

Personally, I’ve always found it a little tricky to tell the difference between being “out of control” and just not knowing how to stop eating something I like to eat. When I was very overweight, “moderation” just wasn’t in my vocabulary. If the food was there and I liked it, most likely I would eat it until it was gone or others started complaining. Not many cookies in the package survived to be eaten another day when I was around. And I felt miserable about not being able to stop myself from overeating. When I first shifted into weight loss mode, I didn’t get much better at stopping before I’d eaten the whole thing, at least not with my favorite foods—I just made sure that I didn’t have super-sized portions of those “trigger foods” within reach. Fortunately, I rarely felt tempted to binge on the leftover steamed broccoli or baked chicken breasts.

At this point, I still don’t feel very confident that I can stop myself from eating more than I want to eat with certain foods, if they’re right in front of me. I made the mistake the other day of falling for one of those promotional deals you see in the impulse buying section at the checkout aisle at the grocery store—buy 2 packs of Peanut M&Ms (one of my favorites) and get two free. I told myself that I could make those 4 packs last at least 4 days. Wrong—they didn’t make it past the first night.

But I don't think that an occasional (or even weekly) problem like this necessarily qualifies as "binge eating" in the clinical sense this diagnosis uses the term. It doesn't cause me all that much distress, because I know that I can almost always decide not to buy the M&Ms in the first place, and keep my house stocked with foods that don’t trigger serious overeating for me--even when I’m feeling the need to do some serious emotional eating. And part of what enables me to do that is believing that I’m not out of control when it comes to eating—I just need to be careful about applying my efforts at the right point in the chain of events that gets the food out of the store and into my mouth. For me, that means trying to make my decisions pretty early in the behavior chain--i.e, before the food is already in the house, and I'm obsessing about eating it. When I do that, I don't really feel out of control or spend a lot of time worrying about my eating. With true binge eating, things really are out of control, as with other forms of compulsive behavior.

It bothers me that the APA description of binge eating focuses so much on what the individual experiences during an episode of binge eating itself, and ignores all the other links in the behavior chain which lead up to the episode, or other emotional and practical problems that may contribute to binge eating, or factors that might help prevent it. But that’s a problem that runs all through the DSM diagnostic system. Most of the listed disorders are simply collections of symptoms, with no or little reference to context, situation, or other personal and social factors that influence a person’s thinking, feeling, or behavior. That may be necessary to facilitate rigorous scientific research and data gathering. But it’s often this background information that points the way to individualized solutions and treatments that work, and that needs research, too.

It will be great if including this new diagnosis of Binge Eating in the DSM prompts more awareness and more research to improve our understanding of this very real problem, and also gets insurance companies to support treatment. But we all need to remember that no person is just a diagnosis, and that no diagnosis provides a complete explanation for why people do what they do. No one binge eats because they fit the diagnostic criteria for "binge eating disorder." We do it for our own reasons, and those can be identified and changed. And we all have strengths and capacities we can draw on, with the right encouragement and support, to understand our problems, learn how to handle them better, and make choices that will help us feel capable and empowered. Sometimes, calling something a "mental disorder" can make it easy to forget those basic facts.

So, if you feel like you qualify for this diagnosis of Binge Eating disorder, don’t let that define you or limit your options. Look for the ways you can exert some control over your thinking, feelings, and choices before you find yourself in the middle of a binge. And get some help if you need it--working with a good therapist and/or support group can make all the difference in the world.

What do you think about this new diagnosis?


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Comments

  • 150
    Disappointing to read judgmental comments... As a professional and someone who is challenged by BED I am grateful that this is acknowledged because treatment will improve and more information will be gained through scientific study... and treatment will improve and.... Peace - 3/22/2012   3:37:26 AM
  • 149
    Personally i think it is great, there are so many people who think that i am fat becasue i am lazy. i have spent thousands of dollars trying to lose weightall for nothing because of the binges and were i work there are at least 4 women who have all recently lost weight and they are keeping it off then everyone turns to me wondering why i can't do it too. I know this because some of them are close to me and have asked me in a kind and loving way but they don't get that i have a problem.
    My ex boyfriend was over 400 lbs and he lost weight and part of why we broke up is because i couldn't drop the weight. He too is a binge eater but he is much better at controling the emotions that bring on the bingeing so maybe now there will be better help available to us. at least i hope so. - 3/13/2012   8:32:05 PM
  • NATTSO78
    148
    This is the first time I have looked at Binge Eating Disorder as outside of myself. I have been diagnosed with it - but now, i am second guessing my therapist after reading this. I don't binge always - there are times when I do have it under control. But like you said, if it's not in the house, I don't obsess - so does that really mean I have BED? Who knows. All i know is like any addiction or disorder, it's usually within the mind and the mind can overcome it. I feel that after reading this, I really don't have this problem - I may have been victim to a doctor's need for $ and therapy. I know why I binge, I know why I emotionally eat - the problem is not knowing - it's knowing what to do with that info & the problem, for me, no longer is binge eating.
    Thank you for this. Thank you for freeing up my mind and energy on life instead of my prior "disorder" - you have given me information that will help me live a normal life again :) - 4/27/2010   6:11:46 PM
  • 147
    Just came across this article and now I feel like eating! Eating is not a mental disorder, it is an everyday occurrence that we must do to survive. The problems come when we eat too much. I feel that is due more to our emotions at the time we decide to eat too much, which puts it more into a category of emotional and/or compulsive eating rather than a mental disorder. We can control emotional/compulsive eating if we really work at it. A mental disorder needs medical guidance to overcome. - 3/29/2010   1:50:55 PM
  • ETHELMERZ
    146
    Does anyone ever "binge eat" a couple of pounds of broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, and finish off with some chopped up onions?? Folks, hunger has nothing to do with binge eating, there is a "need" that is looking to be filled inside the person's mind, and I feel any overeating is a compulsive behavior, but yakking with some mental health counselor isn't going to help much either, at this point. - 3/28/2010   9:14:24 PM
  • 145
    I am glad binge eating is looked at being a disorder. I am guilty of binge eating but I know by sticking to my diet (for the most part), trying to be a role model to my girls and controlling what comes in our house has helped me fight my feelings for binge eating (sometimes). Someone mentioned alcoholism and it is like anyone who is addicted to something harmful, they have to come to terms with their disorder. Only until that is done then hopefully the will find treatment and work to end/control their binge eating. - 3/15/2010   12:48:36 PM
  • 144
    just another made up disorder or disease....pathetic.... - 3/13/2010   3:39:58 AM
  • 143
    I have many of these OCD disorders. I'm trying to treat them holistically. Unfortunately, most of this is from my own pocket. However, if I were to treat it via the DSM with medication/drugs and subsequent side effects, my health insurance would pay for it. What's wrong with this picture?

    People who have these disorders have neurochemical imbalances brought on by heredity and diet. Even the best of diets likely needs supplements. I check mine, I know. Do you? Does your doctor recommend checking them vs giving you medications? I INSIST and if they won't/don't, then I find a new doctor who "speaks my language."

    Books that enlightened me:

    The Diet Cure or any book by Julia Ross (youtube: http://bit.ly/axqwLD )
    Depression Free Naturally, Joan Matthews Larsen (youtube: http://bit.ly/crA2fo ).

    Binge eaters might be trying to self-soothe with food because they're really looking for nutrients to support neurotransmitters. They're getting them in the wrong place is all. (Carbs/sugar/alcohol/drugs ... doesn't matter, all the same, but sugar's more acceptable a drug in our society. We joke about it at the office when someone brings in 'another' birthday cake, or doughnuts: "oh, I'll just have one more piece." etc.)

    The medical community has dropped the ball, but they've branded it and wrapped it up as if a gift we HAVE to accept as the only "peer reviewed" treatment. It's a band-aid to a symptom is all.

    Check your serotonin level, eat to support your brain. Consider food allergies. Talk to a holistic doc ...

    - 3/10/2010   3:53:59 PM
  • 142
    JCMYEREZ - once upon a time, people thought PTSD was fake too. Or clinical depression. Hell, once upon a time, people didn't realize GERMS MADE US SICK. I'm not saying that every single thing out there should be completely covered by insurance, but it IS good to know that people who have this issue will be able to see a therapist and get the help they need to take control again and go back to being functional. - 3/5/2010   10:10:38 AM
  • 141
    just another made up disorder or disease....pathetic.... - 3/4/2010   9:57:14 AM
  • 140
    It's important to be aware that not everything in the DSM is eligible to be covered by insurance, so people who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder may not get that. So just because some people don't believe people who binge should get things like time off work, etc. does not have anything to do with whether or not it's in the DSM. It's a diagnostic tool. It's supposed to be used in conjunction with therapy, which is sort of why there is nothing about personal circumstances in the book, as this blog mentions. Therapists are supposed to use their judgement along with the DSM to diagnose somebody, and it's after several therapy sessions. The idea behind the DSM is just that, regardless of anything revolving around circumstances, if they don't meet these criteria, they don't have the disorder. One of the main points is to prevent from OVER-diagnosing people with certain mental illnesses. Doctors, psychologists, therapists, etc. determine, based on the patient's personal situation, whether or not they meet the criteria. So in a way, things about personal circumstances aren't really necessary to satisfy the purpose of the DSM. I do think that binge eating should be in the DSM. It does seem mostly a compulsive behavior, but any compulsive behavior in excess could be considered a disorder, and several have been in the DSM for years. - 3/2/2010   11:22:48 AM
  • HOKIESIS
    139
    Telling someone with a mental disorder to "get over it" is like telling a epileptic to "just stop seizing" or a type 1 diabetic to "just produce some insulin".
    Also, I'm fairly certain that the difference between me eating too many girl scout cookies last week and a binge eater is the difference between you having a bad day and someone being so depressed they literally cannot get out of bed.

    Or should the depressed person just suck it up? - 3/1/2010   4:29:39 PM
  • 138
    Here's what a guy with a bigger vocabulary than mine thinks on the subject:
    http://townhall.com/columnists/Geor
    geWill/2010/02/28/a_cure_for_charac
    ter


    As someone else here pointed out, if everything we do that's out of the ordinary becomes a "disorder" covered by insurance, who's going to pay the taxes or premiums to fund this "needed treatment" to return everybody to normality? In fact, who gets to decide what's normal? - 2/28/2010   3:54:58 PM
  • MARGOMCP
    137
    I came to SparkPeople through a mental health community posting http://psychcentral.com and am familiar with those having actual eating disorders. I loved your cautions and reminder that, "we all have strengths and capacities we can draw on, with the right encouragement and support, to understand our problems, learn how to handle them better, and make choices that will help us feel capable and empowered." - 2/28/2010   10:41:04 AM
  • 136
    I agree with the posters who raise the point that this sounds more like a compulsive disorder than anything else. I don't think that binge eating should qualify anyone for gov. disability checks, time off of work, etc. Therefore, it shouldn't be listed as a mental disorder in the DSM. I think that binge eaters need therapy on many levels, yes, and that it is a problem that can interfere with life. However, this doesn't make it a disability. - 2/24/2010   2:11:04 PM
  • 135
    Ok do I believe that binge eating is something people should take seriously and seek help for the problem for causing one to binge, but I do NOT believe that this should be classified as a mental disorder.
    I believe that binge eating is a cover for other things going on in people's lives and binge eating has become a habit, perhaps even an unconscious task. Just like OCD and other disorders along those lines, it has become a habit, an everyday thing and then people don't know how to deal with it, not realizing that it is not acceptable behavior or not willing to admit it.
    If this determination of binge eating as a mental disorder is going to lead to insurance companies forking over tons of money (for people who may or may not want help) and a qualification for disability checks and time off of work, then no I absolutely do not agree with this. I don't believe that this diagnosis will raise awareness to the right people, ie those who compulsively over eat!
    I believe that if people truly want help and are honest with themselves about what they want, then they will seek help from appropriate professionals regardless of a definitive medical diagnosis or not. The classification of this as a mental disorder is only going to create excuses for example, well I can't change there is something wrong mentally, or I have a medical condition there is nothing I can do about it.
    - 2/24/2010   10:00:36 AM
  • 134
    As stated before - the DSM is a manual for trained psychologists and psychiatrists - not the layman. It requires special training to be used effectively and accurately. Also, the it is not appropriate for the DSM to list possible causes of the disorders - as that is part of the clinical training that psychologists and psychiatrists receive. We all take extensive family and personal histories to help understand our patients. If the DSM attempted to take all that into account as it discussed each type of disorder, the book would be too large to publish! Rest assured - the professional that uses this to help them diagnose has collected a GREAT DEAL of information about the person and uses all of the information (of which the DSM is just one piece) to help form an intervention and treatment plan.

    Binge eaters aren't just those that eat a lot on a regular basis - there is a compulsion part. A good example of the extremes is those individuals who suffer from Prader Willi Syndrome. If they see it, they must eat it...the interventions have to be extreme and often willpower is a nonissue, since it is a psychological and physiological compulsion. Medication may be very important to controlling these compulsions. - 2/24/2010   7:00:04 AM
  • 133
    I wonder if Binge Eating is not better suited to the "Compulsive Disorders" like kleptomania, pyormania and compulsive gambling, etal? I feel it should be recognized as a serious problem and people should have the option to have insurance help pay for treatment, but I always think of how homosexuality was once a legit diagnosis of a mental disorder in older versions of the DSM.... What worries me most is pharmaceutical companies spending excesses of money on trying to find a pill to cure bing eating! I fear it will meet with an over-diagnosis much like ADHD and Bipolar has! When disorders are over-diagnosed people often miss out on true and real therapy to help! So, i guess I am on the fence o on this one! Thanks for bringing it to our attention though! - 2/23/2010   10:29:43 PM
  • RUTHKB2
    132
    I do not understand how the last two (non-bold) sentences are connected. Is it not important to understand your mental illness? Are people with mental disorders not given choices? Are they not allowed to empower themselves, because they have a diagnosis? It seems to me that it is only "easy to forget those basic facts" if YOUR view of mental illness is that the diagnosis itself is a disempowering act that allows people to give excuses for all their bad behavior.

    People with mental illness are not tucked away in institutions, but instead have to LIVE, out in the world, with the rest of us. Contrary to popular belief, for many people, there is no "magic pill" that makes all their problems go away. Those living with depression often have to force themselves into their day, those with schizophrenia must stay calm under the veil of paranoia in crowds, those with anorexia must take care of their bodies even against their own compulsions. Their choices affect their life. They all have to, if you will, draw on their strengths and capacities with (hopefully) encouragement and support.

    I think it is important to remember "those basic facts" because the popular stigma surrounding mental illness is wrong. Being given a diagnosis should not be seen as an un-empowering event, an excuse, or a negative label--because it's not. - 2/23/2010   6:28:23 PM
  • RAMPANTPANDA
    131
    I avoid this diagnosis by frequency. I do have episodes where I eat an obscene amount of food in just a couple of hours, but they happen at most once every other month when I'm feeling down. I'm very grateful that I don't do it once a week! - 2/23/2010   9:32:54 AM
  • 130
    20 years ago I was diagnosed with bulimia. I would probably been more appropriately diagnosed with binge eating disorder. I would binge eat just like I drank alcohol back then in binges. I now have 13 years sober but still don't have the eating tackled. I have always been an emotional eater. I can trace it back to my grandfather's death. I gained from 76 pounds to 105 after he died. I was 7 then.

    Becky - 2/22/2010   10:58:44 PM
  • 129
    I did much more binge eating when I was thin then I do now that I am at least 45 lbs heavier. I would sit and eat a whole bag of chips, or 7 slices of pizza at times, but other days I wouldn't eat hardly anything. I had a love/hate with food back then. Now it's very rare for me to binge...so why am I 45 lbs heavier???
    Just one more thing to confuse me. - 2/22/2010   9:23:58 PM
  • FRANKFLOWER
    128
    I'm going to offer my two cents here.

    Recognising Binge Eating Disorder as a mental illness is, undoubtedly, a step in the right direction. I understand what the author is saying about the diagnostic criteria focussing on the behaviours rather than the drive behind the bingeing, but the causes/reasons can be so varied, and so complex, that diagnosis and treatment on this basis would be nigh-on impossible. It is also worth remembering that the form of treatment favoured by many eating disorders professionals is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and not conventional psychotherapy. The merits of this approach are debatable: some people argue the cycle will never be broken without dealing with the root causes. But sometimes the first step needs to be about taking control of one's own behaviour, thereby creating enough "mental space" to deal with the "real" issue.

    I suffered from a combination of eating disorders (anorexia then bulimia) in my late teens/early twenties. It is important for me now to distinguish between a normal "binge" - that packet of yummy biscuits which were begging to be eaten, and would be better in my tummy where they couldn't tempt me anymore - and a disordered binge. The latter could consist of anything - I once ate 500g of dried apricots in about 20 minutes - and sends my heart racing, makes my palms clammy, my eyes glaze over, my mind feels full, and my biggest fear is being caught in the act. It is not something I CHOSE to do, and it WAS prompted by issues more serious than a delicious taste or texture. But that is not to say I couldn't take responsibility for my actions. In fact, I HAD to take responsibility, because that was the only way out. Without intending to make the experience of BED sufferers seem trivial in anyway, only YOU can decide when to stop being the victim. Stopping the behaviours is a more complex issue, but start fighting. I was compassionate with myself, and changing the self-talk from negative to positive was the biggest step. But it was MY illness, the manifestation of MY decision (unconscious or otherwise) to react to a series of events and feelings in a particular way. I had to own my illness in order to control it.

    In my case, and in most others, however, such resolve requires professional intervention. For BED to be excluded from illnesses treated on health insurance policies is inexcusable. I really hope this re-classification of BED forces insurers to re-evaluate their policy. - 2/22/2010   8:11:59 AM
  • 127
    Well, most of the time I do my binge eating is at Souplantion. I just love eating there until I almost burst, but at least most of the foods are healthy. [; )] - 2/21/2010   10:56:49 PM
  • TIMNHEATHER
    126
    I don't know alot about the disorder but I believe I have it cuz I love food and if I can sit and eat a big bag of chips by myself which I haven't done lately then I call that a binge. I do it to other foods as well. I get overstuffed all cuz I like the taste and texture
    - 2/21/2010   2:19:43 PM
  • 125
    Well, I've thought for a while that I was fat and crazy; now I know for sure. I'm left wondering which came first, the fat or the crazy? - 2/21/2010   1:57:21 PM
  • 124
    I tend to binge and be totally out of control at times, but when I really set my mind to it I can control what goes into my mouth. If we want, we can always find an excuse for doing something we shouldn't. That being said, I'm sure there are people who really can't help themselves. Maybe they are just so miserable that they are down in a hole they just can't seem to climb out of. - 2/21/2010   1:56:15 PM
  • 123
    I think there are a few cases out there of "Binge Eating Disorder," but I do think it's something that's a bit more controllable that we're making it out to be. I think labeling and categorizing it is just giving people one more excuse to blame their overweight problem on medications or a medical condition. I don't care who you are or what meds you're on you CAN do exercise. No, perhaps it's not running marathons or running at all, but give me your symptoms/med list and I'll give you exercises you can do.

    And EVERYONE can eat healthier. Yes, medications cause an increase in hungar as well as some mental changes and some make it difficult to lose weight or make you retain water, but with persistance and dedication you CAN overcome that. Perhaps it's harder for some than others ,but I never for a minute believe them when someone tells me that they can't lose weight due to meds. - 2/21/2010   1:16:52 PM
  • 122
    Once again the psych doctors make something an illness when it is just the symptoms. Medical groups are doing right and left. That way they don't have to work too hard to find the root cause. I went through a period in my life of binge eating. Open a box of cake mix and dive right in --give me another; give me refrigerated cookie mixed. I would eat til I threw up.

    What was the root cause? I had a husband that was physically abusing me, I was a Catholic, the church told me to stay in the marriage, he put a gun to my head and told me some day he would kill me. Binge eating was my coping mechanism for the root problem. Binge eating was not the disease. Yes I got assistance to get me out of the house one day when he was gone. He tracked me for months trying to find me. Finally some rather big men informed him to go away. No they did not beat him. He just had to learn that he was not the biggest fish in the pond. Since that day through the divorce it was clean cut.

    After that I never binge ate again. I was going to psychological counseling at the time. I won control of myself back and ultimately gained my self esteem back. It took 2 years.

    So the psychs have it wrong. I have a friend that binge eats and hides when eating sweets --she is diabetic. She does not want to give up the candies and foods her mother raised her on (age 55). She is very weak. It is not the binging that is the issue. She is bipolar, is in desperate need for people to love her, wants a male companion but is over weight (remember the binging --catch 22), My husband and I try to coach her all we can. However we know when she goes for a 4 p.m. drive food is on the venue. Then she will eat dinner. It is her mind, not the food. And sad to say because on disability --the psych support is poor at best.

    So I pray for all binge eaters, there is a root cause and pulling back all the layers that hide it in the mind can be a very difficult process and takes a lot of pain and honest and turning on lights in corners that may have only ever seen darkness. That is what I am fighting with my friend --I know there was a deep dark trauma from childhood. Very bad. We talk and the walls go up. Maybe someday the light can go on and the binging can stop. I hope so. She is such a beautiful person inside and full of love and giving. - 2/21/2010   12:05:25 PM
  • 121
    The DSM is for professional use only and those w/o training should not attempt to diagnose themselves. The author mentioned a lack of "the other links in the behavior chain which lead up to the episode, or other emotional and practical problems that may contribute to binge eating, or factors that might help prevent it." That's the information we as professionals go to school for years to learn and will factor in during your intake and treatment sessions should you be diagnosed with this disorder or any other. Unless you have been diagnosed by a professional, please do not label yourself as a binge eater. - 2/21/2010   10:24:27 AM
  • 120
    Lawl156,
    EXCELLENT and well written post. Telling someone they choose an eating disorder is in the same boat as telling someone they chose to be gay.

    I hope those who wrote such negative remarks in the future will think twice before
    doing so again. SP is a site for support and acceptance, and definately NOT a place where others are ridiculed.

    - 2/20/2010   5:50:03 PM
  • LIVINGONMYTERMS
    119
    Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit! I t is about darn time. I feel that binge eating falls between Anerexia and bulemia, it is a gateway leading to either extreme. - 2/20/2010   3:49:53 PM
  • 118
    I have BED, but I fail to see how, as has been suggested by some, that as an eight year old I chose to have this disorder. It's clear these individuals have no understanding whatsoever of what an ED is or the complexity of the condition. This move makes it possible for sufferers like me to get the treatment they need much younger than I did at fifty.

    BED for me came about as a coping strategy for some very bad things that happened to me when I was very young. Thankfully the mental and emotional distress is being addressed, positive relationships built and I have also learned some strategies that I can use to try to avoid an episode.

    Dispite having lost 12 stone over three years I still have episodes, just not as big or as often as before. Unlike compulsive eaters who go for things like cakes, pies, etc. I have to eat anything that is available - a bag of carrots or potatoes, a tin of milk powder, frozen french fries... anything... it doesn't matter what it is, until the compulsion leaves me.

    It's not something that disappears overnight, I've suffered from it for 46 years and have been battling to overcome it for nearly four years since my doctors finally diagnosed it. But I know that through God's love and grace I'm gradually winning.

    As with any mental or physical disorder there will be people who are misdiagnosed, that does not invalidate the condition it simply means that the doctors need to be be more careful and thorough in their diagnosis.

    I also pray that through his love and grace the detractors of this condition will learn to be less judgemental of people who have a real need for understanding and help.

    The general attitude and abusive behaviour of some sections of society towards people who are grossly overweight, as I was and have suffered in the past, is actually very damaging to people with this disorder and helps to perpetuate the behaviour. Or at least that is my experience.

    The fact that I now only get positive comments about my size has made a great difference to my being able to overcome it. - 2/20/2010   2:21:56 PM
  • 117
    Wow, awesome powerful posts after my post - such strength. To LAURANCE
    who asked what treatment there is for binge eating if it were a mental illness, the answer is varied - it would depend on the person, the severity, is medication required to break that compulsion that is driving the person to binge or is medication required to treat the underlying depression or anxiety? The main form of treatment is therapy, then whatever else is required to aid the healing process and help the body and mind back on track. - 2/20/2010   2:06:44 PM
  • WARSCHARK
    116
    I am blessed to have great health insurance, including behavioral medicine, so when I went to see a therapist for binge eating/depression, it was covered. They put me on Wellbutrin. I'm not sure I stuck with it long enough for it to help, though. This was several years ago, and I'm still bingeing. I can go for weeks at a time eating healthy food and exercising then fall off the wagon, like I have this week, and eat everything in sight to the point of feeling physically ill. - 2/20/2010   9:12:42 AM
  • 115
    I think the inclusion of Binge Eating Disorders in the DSM is a step in the right direction. I can understand where Dean is coming from when he talks about context--I have battled bulimia for 12 years and can say that it is just like a drug--an addiction filled with obsessions, compulsions and guilt feelings. I applaud Woobie and Mysterix for their defense of the nature of EDs and people's recognition or denial of them. When I was in the hospital for my own issues, I met many people w/ binge eating disorder. The hospital acknowledged it as a mental disorder just like anorexia and bulimia, but, as has been alluded to already, just because a hospital recognizes the illness does not mean insurance will. That is something that will take time and social pressure on the insurance and medical providers. Eating disorders come in many forms and combinations. Additionally mental disorders are not absolute science like, say, cancer. There are varying degrees of severity and no two people are the same. The DSM is merely a tool to aid in the diagnostic process, it is not a one-size-fits-all black-or-white definition of a person. - 2/20/2010   12:53:07 AM
  • 114
    I have read this blog three times now, and even after a long, hot bath and gin and tonic am still appalled by some of the insensitive, deliberately hurtful comments some have posted.

    SP is a place where people look to find support, not disparagement. Frankly, those of you who have never suffered from any form of disordered eating, or experienced the heartbreak of watching a loved one suffer through one, dont even have a right to comment, and especially not judge with such hurtful and damaging remarks that clearly indicate their belief that this form of disordered eating actually is a choice. Whatever koolaid your drinking, kindly send it my way.Does one choose to be an alcoholic? There is actual research that indicates that there is not only a genetic component to alcoholism but to anorexia as well.

    I've never suffered from BED, but I have had insensitive people ( like those who posted the holier than thou comments) actually tell me they wished they had anorexia for a month or two.

    And as some might think it appears, neither anorxia or bulmia are accepted or glamorous. Trust me, for some of us, it is just as difficult to eat as it is not to binge, or binge and purge. It is horrible to lose ehat used to be your body's normal cues of hunger and satiation. And with restriction, you cross a line at some point when starvation actually begins to feel good; your brain enters this foggy zone (much like BED) when you look in the mirror at a skeleton and see only fat.

    This all startrd for me when I was around 11. Forty years later, I have recovered enough to at least reach the lowest weight for my age and height, and I partake in spinning, step, and kickboxing, along with strength training NOT to burn calories, but to enjoy the euphoria I always feel after finishing a class.

    I eat healthy now, not to lose weight but to maintain and because I know how important clean eating is to health. I love my cardio and strengh training and yoga classes because for the first time in my life, I do not feel like the undersized, clumsy, weak little kid I was. I feel strong and powerful and like an athlete.

    And it has been utterly amazing how far reaching those benefits have had, not only physically, but emotionally and intellectually as well.

    My 85 year old father was a marathon runner until his knes gave out. He has survived 3 strokes and still continues to walk, bicycle, and swim in order to retrain his brain after 3 strokes.

    His passion for exercise and good health has influenced all of us; and that perhaps is the greatest gift he has given us. We never say die. Regardless of what physical limitations come our way, we are all too addicted to exercise to ever let it go.

    We were all brought up to be fighters; even when blind sided and knocked to your knees, we were taught to regroup, and come back swinging.

    As long as you always get up again, you will survive. And survival is the most primal instinct of all.



    - 2/19/2010   9:41:17 PM
  • 113
    After reading the article, criteria, and all the many comments, I am appauled by the ringing chorus of those who say "Well, when -I- eat too much pie, it's not a mental disorder. So it doesn't exist!" Really? No kidding. When I drink a few glasses of wine one night, I'm not an alcoholic. When I have sex, I'm not a nymphomaniac. When I have a miserable day, or even a week, followed by a happy one, I'm amazingly -not- bipolar. Does this mean those conditions don't exist? Just because YOU don't have the disorder doesn't mean NO ONE has it. Yeesh, people. I'm becoming a bit too consistently surprised by the lack of thought and compassion I see in so many comments on various articles. Many are so very quick to judge that one might think none of them have any skeletons in the mental closet.

    I find the DSM criteria very appropriate, as it's a diagnostic work, not a therapeutic work. This is a reference guide, much like the guides used by medical physicians, to quickly look up a series of symptoms and form a testable hypothesis as to their patient's condition. That hypothesis, or diagnosis, is then subject to a trial-and-error of treatments (read: therapies, in this case) which THEN is drawn upon the underlying causes of the disorder. Good on them and I'll happily pay any boost in medicare tax or insurance premiums to cover that for people in need.

    Look outside your 3-foot Bubbleverses, folks. There's a big, wide world out there full of people with problems you've never had nor, gods willing, ever will. Am I a sufferer of this disorder? Heck no. But if I was, would I be THANKFUL that a council of medical professionals finally told me I wasn't just piggish/lazy and that there was hope for a healthy life? Heck yes!

    Judge not, lest ye be judged. - 2/19/2010   7:30:35 PM
  • LAURANCE
    112
    Oh, and just what would "treatment" for binge eating be? How can this be treated? At age 68 I still haven't found anything that is effective. - 2/19/2010   4:54:17 PM
  • LAURANCE
    111
    I've had miserable troubles with compulsive binge eating since my teens. I was a fat middle-aged woman when I sought help from a therapist who specialized in eating disorders.

    The therapist refused to help me. Why? Because compulsive binge eating was not an eating disorder. Anorexia and bulemia certainly are eating disorders, but bingeing? No, not at all, so I was told.

    I felt angry at this. So often bulemic and anorexic women are young and beautiful slender waifs, so vulnerable, so attractive; while fat middle-aged women in sweat pants are considered utterly unattractive.

    I felt so invalidated and dehumanized.

    Thin is in, and slim and lovely young women who are so helpless and in such need are oh so appealing. I remember a man who was drawn to a bulemic young woman because her neediness was attractive to him, and he wanted to save her from herself. It didn't work. I wasn't surprised.

    But dumpy fat women in stretch pants and overblouses? Nyahh, who cares? It's all their fault they're fat and ugly. It's all their fault they choose to indulge. After all, nobody puts a gun to their heads and forces them to eat. They just need to use their willpower and stop feeling sorry for themselves. (Don't anybody misunderstand this paragraph. This is not MY attitude, it's the attitude of people around me.)

    I've heard this line over and over. I've felt so angry and unhappy when I've had to deal with this attitude.

    I suspect that there's some sexism going on here. Sexy beautiful women, yes. Fat women, especially middle-aged and old women, no, and it's high time this problem gets addressed. - 2/19/2010   4:52:06 PM
  • 110
    Just including a diagnosis in the DSM will not lead to insurance coverage. There are plenty of mental illnesses now that are not covered. Typically individuals with the eating disorders currently in the DSM (anorexia, bulimia and especially EDNOS) have an incredibly hard time getting a full course of effective treatment covered. insurance companies don't like paying for mental health treatment.

    Including Binge Eating Disorder in the DSM is critical to improving the diagnostic criteria over time and finding effective treatments. If effective treatments can be found, there is a better chance that insurance will eventually cover them.. - 2/19/2010   12:37:21 PM
  • 109
    MOOKBALL:
    Quote: Binge eating is a national passtime for people who have little else in their lives to keep their bodies busy. Making it a mental disorder and giving it that status means that if a national helathcare plan is passed that it's already bankrupt."
    End Quote

    First, this site isn't only for those in the USA, it has international members including myself and the DSM is worldwide tool for diagnosis. That aside, I read, reread and reread your short post and still fail to understand the judgement that has come through the words. Fail because this is a site for folks of all types, sizes, shapes, weights, no health issues, health issues, mental health issues, and folks who yes, binge eat - whether its the occasional eating too much or the compulsive clinicial type of binge eating. It's a national pasttime, that's what really trips me up. I didn't fall into that deep cycle because I was bored. My bff doesn't lock herself in her room to eat until she passes out because she was bored. Then again, perhaps there is a belief that an alcoholic is simply too lazy and bored to stop drinking - despite solid medical evidence that it changes the chemical layout of the body and mind, so that it (mind and body) craves the alcohol. Or a belief that drug addicts simply are too weak-minded to stop using drugs - despite (again) medical scientific proof that like alcohol, there is a strong physical craving that hits the brain, which creates a strong throught craving for the drug. There is more and more evidence of how compulsive behaviours are a result of chemical and electrical nerve-pathway changes in the brain, which is being done real-time through MRI. Someone like myself who dealt with the compulsive - do what I have to do to make it happen or the "bugs" crawl all over my skin, driving me insane - need to eat until passed out, ill, in pain, disorientated isn't too bored to do something else. Just for thought - I held down 5 jobs, worked up to 80hrs per week, 7 days per week and was surviving on an average of 4 hrs of sleep per day, sometimes 2 hrs at one time, work, then follow with another 2hrs. I was also very busy with all my volunteer work, babysitting my friend's children and travelling. That is not a sign of someone bored. I hope that through all this discussion everyone who believes its simply a lack of willpower or like yourself, boredom, come to understand that its far more deeper and complex than that. As a member said, its the compulsive need that means you'll put your hands through a brick wall and not notice the pain, to obtain the "fix" that is needed. - 2/19/2010   12:31:34 PM
  • 108
    NORASPAT, this is from someone who was dx with eating disorder that didn't fit the criteria of anorexia and bulemia - it wasn't a peace of mind that resulted from the diagnosis, it was an awakening. To know that you are using a coping mechanism to deal with issues that are deep and long-standing, that there is a reason behind the insanity, that you aren't weak, crazy, stupid or too lazy to exercise, that others also struggle with the issue - its not a creation of peace of mind, its more like relief, relief to know that you aren't alone. That you don't have to hide away in shame. That in fact, you are a very strong individual who is using a coping mechanism that isn't quite working. Isn't that quite a switch from "just stop eating so much, what's your problem, you just don't have the willpower." As I've shared, its not simply I couldn't stop buying a chocolate bar at the store, it was that I couldn't sleep, function or simply "be" in the world because this tiger dogged my every step and since it wasn't the "social acceptable" forms of eating disorders, it was very hidden. Now with the possiblity of it coming to the DSM as a form of eating disorder, perhaps others won't need to hide in shame thinking they are simply too weak to stop because it'll also be recognized and accepted as part of the spectrum of eating disorders. It'll allow for plans of action and intervention to come into play quicker and with more support than in the past. Peace of mind, no. Relief, yes. Ability to obtain proper treatment, definitely.

    I'm speaking in kind and hope this helps you work through and think more on this issue. - 2/19/2010   12:11:11 PM
  • 107
    This came as a surprise to me to see binge eating as a criteria for a medical diagnosis. It does seem everything must have a label to justify it's existence. Once there is a label there seems to be peace of mind. This I will be thinking about for a very long time. - 2/19/2010   11:53:53 AM
  • 106
    Interesting how many people think they know what binge eating is and have no clue. As someone who's struggled with eating disorders, I can tell you, I was as out of whack when I was on a binge and not throwing up afterwards as when I was making myself throw up. Or as when I was living on black coffee and three saltines a day. As someone else posted, a binge isn't enjoyable. It's actually pretty horrible. Recognizing that one has an underlying problem doesn't give one an excuse; it puts another item on one's to-do list--get help for that problem. I'm not sure why that's so controversial. - 2/19/2010   11:04:19 AM
  • JULIAS_CHILD
    105
    I, too, agree with many of the arguments outlined in this forum that it is easy to create labels because I believe that these labels are wrongly applied to many people. I think that if the psychiatry community wants to include binge eating as a psychiatric diagnosis, it needs to carefully outline very specific criteria to categorize a clinical binge eater, not someone, like me, who has very disordered eating because of high emotions. - 2/19/2010   10:36:45 AM
  • 104
    It is hard to believe that a professor in psychology has a hard time with this diagnosis. I agree that this was written in a negative light. Binge eating is definitely a mental disorder, so feelings are appropriate. It scares the bejesus out of me to think I have a problem but now know that it is one documented by professionals. This blog didn't help me to feel better about myself but those who left comments sure did!!!! - 2/19/2010   8:42:30 AM
  • 103
    @VRADAA: Why would you bring other mental disabilities into this discussion? Do you have personal experience to prove that ADD is not a real condition? I have proof that it is real. I also have brain scans to prove abnormal brain activity. Would you like to argue that?

    To everyone making broad and sweeping statements about mental illness: You are being unsupportive and unkind. Unless you have had personal experience like watching a loved one with mental disorder, experiencing a disorder yourself, or watching your child struggle with a disorder, you will never understand the agony the person with the disability, the family, and friends go through.

    These comments are terribly insensitive. SparkPeople is supposed to be a place for support. A safe haven for those joined by the common interest of leading a healthy life. It has now become a very judgemental and unsafe haven.

    Congratulations you nay sayers, you have successfully shut out a group of people in need. If they come to this site in hope of support and see this, they will turn away.

    For those with kind words, let's hope your words are stronger and can help those seeking help. Let's hope your words stand out above the negativity and encourage those in need. - 2/19/2010   8:01:20 AM
  • CATTRINA
    102
    Today I got a big chocolate bar and I couldn't wait to get the oportunity to eat it. Lately I just have to have chocolate but it has to be very sweet. I didn't care for chocalate before so much . If I hear people saying I must have it , I think I am missing something and I have to have it also. I think people binge for different reasons. When I was young and had no time for miself, taking care of 4 children, I really didn't have time to think of food at all. Food was never in my mind until a friend said one day ( I need to go on a diet) other friends join her and said I do too. That was the beginning of my over eating, I started to think about food and so I started to put on weight. Food all of a suden became a priority in my life. Now 30 something years later, I continue to try dieting. But now I am trying to eat healthy food instead of less food. - 2/19/2010   1:41:22 AM
  • 101
    A lot of these comments are concerned that adding binge eating to the DSM will just create another flaw to label people by. The DSM is not meant to be a societal labeler, but a diagnostic and medical resource that allows professionals to HELP the people with the disorders described in its pages. I think that adding binge eating to the DSM will validate the fact that is IS real, it IS out of a person's control, and it is not merely a personal weakness or character flaw. It is a disorder, one that originates in the brain, and should be treated just as any other disease is. - 2/19/2010   12:07:03 AM

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