Eating disorders are characterized by strange eating patterns, including over-eating, excessive fasting, and purging. In a binge eating disorder, individuals feel the need for excessive and untimely eating leading to physical and mental health issues in the long run. According to one study, 2% of males and 3.5% of females suffer from binge eating during their lifetimes.
This percentage is considerably higher than other eating disorders such as anorexia, making binge eating a bigger issue. Unlike bulimia, where excessive eating is followed by purging or throwing up, binge-eaters do not follow this practice. That’s why binge eating disorder can lead to overweight individuals causing obesity and heart conditions.
Binge eating is a treatable disorder that can be easily cured with the right treatment. This article will talk about the causes, symptoms, and online therapy for binge eating.
- What Causes Binge Eating?
- Symptoms for Binge Eating: Recognizing the Disorder
- Cure for Binge Eating: Overcoming the Illness
- Why Choose Online Therapy for Binge Eating
- Negative Effects of Binge Eating: Impacts to Consider
- Overcoming Negative Effects of Binge Eating Via Online Therapy
What Causes Binge Eating?
Understanding the causes of binge eating involves delving into a complex interplay of psychological, biological, and social factors. While there’s no definitive cause that applies to everyone, several potential reasons have been identified that may trigger binge eating behaviors in individuals.
- Emotional trauma
Experiencing emotional trauma can significantly impact one’s relationship with food. Traumatic events like a breakup, divorce, or the death of a loved one can lead to a coping mechanism where individuals turn to food for comfort. This is often seen as a form of emotional eating where the act of consuming large amounts of food serves to numb or soothe negative emotions. In some cases, the trauma may be rooted in childhood experiences, such as bullying or abuse, which can have long-lasting effects on self-esteem and body image, further contributing to disordered eating patterns.
- Disrupting Eating Patterns
Irregular eating habits, such as skipping meals or eating at inconsistent times, can disrupt the body’s natural hunger cues. This can lead to a cycle where prolonged periods of hunger are followed by episodes of overeating. Furthermore, such habits can disrupt the balance of hunger-regulating hormones like ghrelin and leptin, leading to difficulty in recognizing satiety, and potentially contributing to binge eating episodes.
- Genetic Predisposition
Research has shown that genetics can play a role in the likelihood of developing binge eating disorder. A family history of eating disorders, obesity, or other mental health conditions can increase susceptibility. The genetic link suggests that certain individuals may have an inherited predisposition towards addictive behaviors or a heightened response to food stimuli, making them more prone to binge eating.
- Psychological Stress and Low Self-esteem
Stress and anxiety, particularly when combined with low self-esteem, can be powerful triggers for binge eating. Stressful life events, work pressure, or ongoing challenges can lead to emotional eating as a form of self-soothing. Low self-esteem, often influenced by societal pressures and personal experiences, can contribute to a negative body image and a distorted relationship with food. In some cases, individuals may use food as a temporary escape from feelings of inadequacy or low self-worth.
Symptoms for Binge Eating: Recognizing the Disorder
Just like other mental illnesses, many people don’t realize they have one. This is quite common with binge eating disorder where many people believe they are acting normally. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 offers meaningful insights into identifying binge eating behavior.
- Awkward Eating Patterns
Binge eaters demonstrate awkward eating patterns, such as excessive eating in a short amount of time. This is accompanied by a feeling of being unable to stop eating even when already full. Likewise, patterns of fasting and dieting combined with avoiding scheduled meals at normal times is also a symptom of binge eating.
- Unusual Social Behavior
Often binge eating disorder also alters social behavior, with many people hiding food in personal spaces. Similarly, one may feel disgusted, angry, or embarrassed by their inability to stop eating. As people consume excessive food during binge eating, they may prefer eating alone.
- Changes In Physical Features
Due to excessive eating over long periods, many people may end up gaining a lot of weight, leading to obesity. On the flip side, binge eating is often associated with large periods of fasting or dieting, leading to weight loss in many people. By not eating at regular times and in normal quantities, individuals can develop stomach issues.
Cure for Binge Eating: Overcoming the Illness
Binge eating is curable just like any other mental illness, with an estimated 28.4% of people currently receiving therapy for binge eating. Being a complex mental illness with no proven causes, treatment can vary from person to person.
The most common treatments are:
- Psychotherapy: This is one of the most effective treatments for binge eating and includes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The focus is on ‘talking’ to the patient and providing advice on altering behaviors and feelings. For binge eating, a therapist will first understand your problems and then provide expert advice on overcoming them.
- Medication: Medication may also be used with psychotherapy in severe to extreme cases by therapists. The most common medicines used for binge eating include antidepressants, as many people suffer from depression due to this disorder.
Why Choose Online Therapy for Binge Eating
Online therapy can prove beneficial in cases of binge eating due to high cases of guilt and withdrawal from public life. It is also convenient, accessible, and cheaper.
- Fitting for Different Age Groups
Binge eating often happens to teens and young adults in their twenties. This age group is busy with school and work to visit a therapist physically. Therefore, online therapy for binge eating can provide a convenient alternative.
- Comfortable and Private
One of the major symptoms of binge eating relates to withdrawal from the public and a preference for solitude. Many individuals find physical appointments too taxing with the fear of running into familiar faces. Online therapy for binge eating can provide them with an additional layer of privacy.
- Immediate Support
Many individuals lose control during episodes of binge eating. This is the most vulnerable point requiring immediate intervention. With online therapy. people can connect with therapists in real time without the need for appointments. Likewise, online therapists can provide immediate care and personalized treatment based on individual behavior.
Negative Effects of Binge Eating: Impacts to Consider
Binge eating can range from mild (1 to 3 cases per week) to severe (greater than 14 cases per week). When left untreated, binge eating disorder can harm individuals emotionally, mentally, or physically.
Let’s take a closer look at its harmful effects:
- Health Issues: By constantly eating, there’s a high chance of becoming obese, which can lead to heart disease.
- Depression: If people are unable to seek treatment for a long time, they may become depressed.
- Emotional problems: Excessive binge eating may also impact a person emotionally by excluding them from their social support.
Overcoming Negative Effects of Binge Eating Via Online Therapy
While the above-mentioned negative effects can harm a person’s mental and physical well-being, online therapy can help. Online therapy for binge eating offers a quick yet effective mode of overcoming the negative effects of this disorder.
Here’s how you can take things back in control:
Talk to a Therapist
Engaging with a dependable therapist online is a critical first step. Sharing your feelings and identifying trigger points can be deeply therapeutic. An online therapist can tailor their approach to your unique needs, offering specific strategies for managing triggers and developing healthier eating patterns. They can also work with you to address underlying issues such as low self-esteem or body image concerns that may be contributing to binge eating.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other similar therapies, conducted online, can be highly effective in tackling depression, often associated with binge eating. These therapies help in reshaping negative thought patterns, focusing on positive life aspects, and developing practical skills to manage depressive symptoms. They also offer techniques to disconnect the link between mood and food, helping to reduce the frequency of binge eating episodes.
Utilizing Online Resources
Online therapists can also provide online resources, including videos and books for regaining your confidence. These resources often include exercises for self-reflection, techniques for stress management, and strategies to improve self-care and emotional well-being.
Building a Support Network
Online therapy platforms often facilitate connections with support groups or forums where individuals can share experiences and strategies with others facing similar challenges. This community aspect can provide additional emotional support, lessen feelings of isolation, and offer real-life examples of successful coping strategies and recovery stories.
Developing Mindfulness and Eating Awareness
Mindfulness techniques, which can be taught and practiced in online therapy sessions, are effective in developing a healthier relationship with food. Mindfulness encourages being present and fully engaged during eating, helping to recognize hunger and fullness cues, and reducing mindless or emotional eating. Therapists can guide you through mindfulness exercises specifically designed to foster a more conscious and balanced approach to eating.