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Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that can have many different health risks. However, when most people hear the term “eating disorder,” they only think of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, not binge eating disorder. Binge eating disorder is actually the most common eating disorder in the US today, affecting more than 3.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men. Like other compulsive mental disorders, those with binge eating disorder are unable to control many of their actions surrounding food and in some cases, may be dealing with other mental health conditions like anxiety and depression as well. Luckily, with the help of a strong support system in place and early intervention, binge eating disorder treatment can be extremely successful. Keep reading to learn more about the disorder and the available options for binge eating treatment with Clementine.

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

Before family members start to think about finding the right binge eating disorder treatment program for their loved ones, they must first understand what makes this type of eating disorder unique. Similar to bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder is characterized by recurring instances of uncontrollable binge-eating. People with this type of eating disorder eat large amounts of food in a relatively short period of time.

But unlike bulimia nervosa, people with binge eating disorder do not turn to compensatory behaviors like vomiting or laxative use after a binge. This very serious mental health disorder is often accompanied by feelings of shame, guilt and disgust after a binge. Additionally, those with binge eating disorder are more likely to experience devastating physical, emotional and social consequences if their condition its left untreated.

Binge Eating Recovery: Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms

Because individuals with binge eating disorder often have intense feelings of shame and guilt surrounding their binge eating behaviors, it can be difficult for friends and loved ones to detect the disorder at first. Some of the most common warning signs that loved ones can look out for include:

  • Feeling out of control when it comes to food
  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a short period of time
  • Eating food more quickly than normal
  • Eating large amounts of food without feeling physically hungry
  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Feelings of guilt, sadness or disgust after binge eating
  • Eating alone or in secret due to embarrassment surrounding binge eating behaviors
  • Feeling sad or angry about body shape and/or weight
  • Feeling anxious, depressed or sad about binge eating episodes

What Are the Long-Term Health Risks of Binge Eating Disorder?

One of the biggest reasons that doctors push for early intervention in the binge eating disorder treatment process is to help reduce the risk of serious health problems in the future. When people overeat, they end up with a very sore, stuffed and stressed out stomach. While it is normal for everyone to feel like this occasionally, with binge eating disorder, the lasting effects of putting so much strain on the digestive system can be much more complicated. Below are 4 major health issues associated with binge eating disorder.

Excessive Weight Gain and Obesity

Excessive weight gain is one of the most common symptoms of binge eating disorder. In fact, about two-thirds of people with binge eating disorder are overweight. Many people with the disorder feel bad about their fluctuating weight, leading to feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety and depression – all of which can result in more overeating. Being overweight or obese can also increase a person’s chances of developing long-term health issues like:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Sciatica (low back pain)
  • And more

Heart Disease

Another benefit of seeking binge eating treatment early on is to help prevent the lasting negative health effects associated with heart disease. Obesity makes it much more difficult for the heart to pump blood throughout the lungs and body. Additionally, excess fat that is stored around the mid-section increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels and high cholesterol. Over time, these health risks can also increase the risk of a stroke or heart attack.

Type 2 Diabetes

Studies suggest that people who binge eat are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can be a lifelong health issue that requires ongoing medical treatment. If someone already has diabetes and continues to binge eat, their blood sugar levels can become much more difficult to control.

Depression and Other Mood Disorders

Co-occurring mental health disorders are also very common when someone is experiencing an eating disorder. This is another reason why it is important for families to be aware of the different binge eating disorder recovery programs before choosing a treatment facility. If a loved one has co-occurring mental health disorders, they will need access to specialized treatment.

What Options Are Available for Binge Eating Disorder Treatment?

Similar to an individual who is living with bulimia nervosa, those with binge eating disorder often experience negative feelings surrounding food that are also intertwined with fear, anger, guilt, shame and anxiety. As their symptoms progress, it is also common for their emotions to spiral out of control to where they cannot even understand why they continue to binge. However, because people with this type of eating disorder do not purge after a binge eating episode, finding appropriate binge eating treatment can be more complicated.

Levels of Care

While there isn’t one simple binge eating disorder treatment method that will work for everyone, there are varying levels of care that may be beneficial at different stages of the disorder. For example, inpatient treatment may be the best option for someone who needs access to 24-hour care due to other serious health issues that are related to their eating disorder – such as severe depression or suicidal thoughts.

Another great option for those who appear to be both medically and psychiatrically stable would be a day treatment program. This outpatient treatment option usually involves regular therapy sessions at an eating disorder counseling center over the course of several months.

Residential treatment programs for eating disorders offer patients access to a complete array of therapies all in one safe and comfortable space. In residential treatment, patients typically have access to a wide range of specialists including medical doctors, psychologists, nutritionists, fitness experts and meditation experts. With this level of care, patients learn all of the skills necessary for a successful recovery in a safe and very relaxed setting.

Medications are sometimes prescribed as part of the binge eating disorder recovery process. Common medications that are used in eating disorder treatment include antidepressants, stimulants and anti-seizure drugs. In fact, research suggests that the ADHD stimulant medication Vyvanse can be effective in decreasing a patient’s desire to binge.

Psychotherapy Treatment Options for Eating Disorders

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or CBT is often the treatment option of choice for those with binge eating disorder. With CBT, patients focus on understanding how their way of thinking, negative self-talk and poor self-image directly impact their disordered eating behaviors. Over time, they are taught how to identify dysfunctional thought patterns and attitudes that can trigger their past patterns of harmful eating behaviors as well.

CBT is a time-limited treatment program, meaning that a patient will seek treatment at an eating disorder counseling center for a specific period of time with specific goals set in place. By learning to understand and identify irrational thought patterns or the “cognitive” part of their disorder and then make real-life changes to correct those patterns (behavioral), patients can set goals that surround positive eating habits, rewards and new ways of coping with stress.

Family Therapy

Another popular treatment option for eating disorders like binge eating disorder is family therapy. This treatment focuses on helping patients understand the sometimes dysfunctional role that they play within their family dynamic and how continuing their disordered eating behaviors allows them to maintain that role.

Treatment involves both the patients and their family. However, there may be some instances where therapy sessions do not involve the person who has binge eating disorder. This is typically done to help the family better understand the condition and the roles that they have been playing in support of the disorder, as well as what they can do to support the recovery process.

What Are the Benefits of Early Intervention for Eating Disorder Treatment?

Eating disorders carry the highest mortality rate out of any known mental health illness. They are also quite unique among mental health disorders because they manifest into physical health complications – which can result in serious and long-term health issues like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and more. Research shows that the various treatment options for eating disorders work best when delivered early on.

Early identification and swift action from loved ones have been shown to improve the speed of recovery, reduce many common symptoms associated with binge eating disorder and greatly improve the likelihood that an individual will avoid relapse. For example, studies have shown that when young kids with anorexia nervosa are exposed to family-based therapy within the first 3 years of developing the disorder, they have a much greater chance of making a successful recovery.

Whether an individual chooses a comprehensive day treatment program, or they are interested in the many benefits of a residential eating disorder treatment program, beginning on the path towards as soon as possible will often result in a better overall outcome.

Learn More About Treatment Options for Eating Disorders with Clementine

At our eating disorder counseling centers, our patients and their families have access to a dedicated team of professionals who are ready to guide them through the recovery process with compassion and great care. We are proud to provide the highest quality treatment in a safe, comfortable and home-like setting. With a higher focus on psychiatric and medical care than patients will find in most other eating disorder treatment centers, we provide the tools necessary to live a fulfilled life outside of treatment.

Not only do we provide luxurious facilities and a top-quality professional staff, but patients can also take advantage of nutrition therapy, yoga and dance, fitness counseling, individual therapy, group therapy, off-site activities and much more. While there is no such thing as a miracle cure for eating disorders like binge eating disorder, for those who seek recovery, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As our patients gain confidence in their ability to make positive changes and choices for themselves, they are able to experience improved self-esteem and positive body acceptance while they work towards a successful recovery.

Interested in learning more about the eating disorder treatment programs available from Clementine? Call 855.900.2221 or contact our staff online today for more information.

Areas We Serve:

Houston, TX | South Miami, FL | Malibu Lake, CA | Naperville, IL | Portland, OR | Briarcliff Manor, NY | Twin Lakes, VA


Melissa Spann, PhD, LMHC, CEDS-S

Melissa Orshan Spann, PhD, LMHC, RTY 200, is Chief Clinical Officer at Monte Nido & Affiliates, overseeing the clinical operations and programming for over 50 programs across the U.S. Dr. Spann is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and clinical supervisor as well as an accomplished presenter and passionate clinician who has spent her career working in the eating disorder field in higher levels of care. She is a member of the Academy for Eating Disorders and the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals where she serves on the national certification committee, supervision faculty, and is on the board of her local chapter. She received her doctoral degree from Drexel University, master’s degree from the University of Miami, and bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.