Binge eating: a disorder still under discussion. binge eating

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What is binge eating?
Binge eating is characterized by excessive food intake, loss of control over what is being eaten and how much. The most important characterization of binge eating is that the act of eating food is, in most cases, independent of the feeling of hunger or of physical need, that is, the person who has episodes of binge eating is not necessarily very hungry or has not been for a long time eat. Some people may even feel bad for so much food intake.
Binge eating can be diagnosed in people of different age groups, social classes and both sexes. Its main consequence is weight gain, which ends up becoming harmful in other dimensions of the individual's health.

Is binge eating a disease?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), binge eating can be understood as a disorder when frequent episodes occur (at least twice a week) and when this behavior continues for a specific period (6 months). In addition, to be characterized as Binge Eating Disorder, this behavior must necessarily be accompanied by others, such as loss of control and cannot be associated with compensatory behaviors to lose weight, which, in this case, would configure a picture of bulimia.

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For some authors, binge eating would be a component of Bulimia, for others, the difference between Binge Eating Disorder and Bulimia is precisely: while in the second after a large intake of food the subject makes an effort to lose weight and compensate for the amount ingested, in the first it does not it happens. It is noteworthy that this disorder is not considered a closed diagnosis. According to the DSM-IV-TR, it is an unspecified disorder that requires further research.

What can be the causes?
One cannot speak of absolute causes in the case of disorders such as Binge Eating. Numerous factors can influence the relationship we establish with food: genetic factors such as depressive-anxiety in family, sociocultural factors such as valuing a standard of body aesthetics combined with blaming the unfit subject, among others.
Thus, we can say that the relationship with food is built throughout life, with genetic, social, educational and cultural influences. So, too, is the relationship of charging with regard to appearance and dietary control. One cannot, therefore, restrict the cause of Binge Eating Disorder to one aspect. only, on the contrary, different elements must be taken into account in the diagnostic process.

How can the diagnosis be made?
Some signs can be observed to indicate that a person's eating habits demand attention. Among them, we can mention:

- Large food intakes, even when there is no hunger or when, despite being satisfied, the subject continues to ingest food.
- Disguised eating habits (when the subject hides food, for example).
- Inability to feel full, even after eating a large amount of food.
- Attachment to empty food packages.
- Food linked to psychological condition (anxiety and depression).
- Constant discontent with your own body.

As we discussed, diagnosis is still complicated, even for professionals. Paying attention to these behaviors can only reveal the need for psychological support to help solve the problem.
What are the treatments?
As in most cases, binge eating is associated with a psychological condition, the indicated treatments are psychological follow-up, dietary counseling and, if necessary, psychiatric and pharmaceutical counseling, aimed at controlling the anxiety. Some antidepressants have been used to treat binge eating as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (fluoxetine, sertraline, citalopram).
However, the treatment cannot be reduced to medication, since thinking about the treatment in these cases is a multidisciplinary movement, where the efforts come together to improve the relationship that the individual has with food and the ways he finds to deal with frustrations and anxieties.

Juliana Spinelli Ferrari
Brazil School Collaborator
Graduated in Psychology from UNESP - Universidade Estadual Paulista
Brief psychotherapy course by FUNDEB - Foundation for the Development of Bauru
Master's Student in School Psychology and Human Development at USP - University of São Paulo

Source: Brazil School -

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