With depression on the rise, so are the instances of uncontrollable overeating.
Binge eating disorder is typified by bouts of eating where a huge quantity of food is eaten in response to some emotional or stress trigger. Typically a binge eater may eat for up to two hours continuously or alternate between binge eating and normal eating everyday. They consume not as a result of hunger and gorge without being aware of what they ate, often continuing beyond being full. Binge eating bouts are ensued by feelings of guilt or disgust and the binge eater is anxious to end his or her habit but cannot. Many binge eaters do not even recognize their problem until significant weight gain has occurred, adding to their already precarious state of depression.
Studies have linked binge eating to irregularities in the brain’s hypothalamus that may have been caused by a genetic mutation. Lowered levels of the hormone serotonin may contribute to the lack of satiation. The treatment for binge eating disorder needs to be three-pronged, combining cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and anti-depressants.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps raise awareness of personal eating habits and how one can respond differently to stress triggers. Psychotherapy helps binge eaters review their social interactions and relationships, identify problem areas, and take remedial actions.
Some of the leading centers for treatment of binge eating disorder include:
1. Center for Overcoming Problem Eating (COPE) in Pittsburgh
2. Eating Disorders Clinic in New York
3. Eating Disorder Program at the University of Chicago Hospitals
4. Rutgers Eating Disorders Clinic
5. Eating Disorder Program at Golisano Children's Hospital
6. Center for Brief Therapy at Philadelphia
7. Eating Disorders Program at the Menninger Clinic at Houston
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