Television personality, author and hairstylist Jonathan Van Ness recently shared on social media his struggle with eating and weight after “years of feeling powerless with food”.
She explained that she suffers from binge eating disorder – an eating disorder characterized by eating large amounts of food and feeling unable to control it.
Binge eating disorder is probably the most common eating disorder out there, affecting between 0.6-2.3 percent of the population worldwide. It is said to be two to three times more common than anorexia nervosa – and some evidence suggests that cases are on the rise.
However, despite its prevalence, many people are unaware that the disease exists. In fact, many people with binge eating disorder don’t even know they have it, meaning they don’t get diagnosed until their 30s or 40s.
Because of the harm that can come from the condition, the knowledge that people like Van Ness do can help more people get the help they need – instead of suffering for years.
Here are some things you should know.
The thing that distinguishes binge eating disorder from binge eating or binge eating is the feeling of being out of control while eating, or if it interferes with your daily life.
Some symptoms of an eating disorder include:
- Eating until you are barely satisfied,
- Eating a lot of food, even without hunger;
- Eating faster than usual,
- Feeling sad, depressed, or guilty after eating.
With the right treatment, it is often possible to catch a binge eating disorder before serious problems develop. It is important to catch it early, because it can lead to various diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.
Other mental health problems are also common, with about 70 percent of patients reporting depression – such as depression – or anxiety.
About a quarter of people with binge eating disorder have attempted suicide. Binge eating can have a huge impact on a person’s daily life, with people reporting that they do not do well in school and that they do not get many jobs.
What’s surprising about the lack of awareness about binge eating disorder is that it’s a very treatable disease.
Many people are recommended for medical treatment, such as medication, which can help them understand the causes of binge eating, as well as help them learn healthy eating habits and coping strategies.
Psychotherapy can be very helpful in helping people stop binge eating, as well as managing the symptoms of other mental health conditions they may have – such as depression.
Antidepressants (such as antidepressants) have been found to be effective in reducing binge eating. However, this has the risk of side effects (such as headaches, insomnia, nausea and fatigue) and, on average, is much less than psychological treatment.
Another important step in recovering from an eating disorder is learning to change your relationship with food. In his Instagram story, Van Ness said that this helped him a lot to deal with his eating disorder.
He said that one of the things he learned to do was prioritize meal times and prepare his meals.
Although there are several factors that are often at play when it comes to binge eating disorder, symptoms are often caused by negative experiences or emotions – such as boredom, depression, or anxiety – or physical causes, such as being hungry.
People with binge eating disorder may also have trouble controlling their emotions, which can lead to depression and binge eating.
Other signs that you may be developing a binge eating disorder may include changes in your eating habits (such as buying large amounts of food or eating even when you are not hungry) and spending a lot of time thinking about food.
Binge eating is not a pleasant experience and people often feel scared, ashamed or guilty about their symptoms, which makes it difficult to talk about the condition.
If you think you may have an eating disorder, talk to your doctor as soon as possible so they can refer you to a specialist. Although this can be difficult, planning ahead can help. Think about what you can say, what you are worried about and what questions you have. You may want to bring a friend to help you.
If you know someone who has an eating disorder, it can be helpful to have an honest, non-judgmental conversation about your concerns. Consider trying to understand why they are struggling and encourage them to get help.
Despite the true stories of people like Van Ness, binge eating remains an often overlooked and undertreated disease. Barriers exist for both patients and professionals, and they say the problem of binge eating can be oversimplified in the media.
Misrepresenting the disease and talking about it less than other problems can make it difficult for patients to express themselves clearly. Raising awareness about binge eating disorder will help those affected – not only by encouraging them to seek help, but also by reducing stigma.
Paul Jenkins, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Reading.
This article is reprinted from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the first article.