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Teens and Binge Eating

How Is Binge-Eating Disorder Treated?

Binge-eating disorder is best treated with a combination of approaches. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and insight-oriented therapy, can help patients learn to recognize the thoughts and feelings that can trigger binge eating. Group therapy can also be quite helpful in helping patients feel less shame around their symptoms. Some self-help strategies such as keeping a journal and meditation can help people to identify and tolerate difficult feelings and mood states that can lead to binge eating. 

Nutritional counseling can be used to educate the patient about healthy food choices and, more importantly, about how to recognize the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Finally, certain medications such as antidepressants can help to treat associated depressive symptoms and in some patients can help regulate the urge to binge eat.

Can Binge-Eating Disorder Harm My Health?

Binge-eating leads to obesity, which is a major public health problem. Some 97 million Americans (65% of the population) are overweight, and half of them are obese. Many experts believe that binge eating and overeating "bad fats" (saturated and trans fats), carbohydrates (such as white bread and pastries), and sugar is largely responsible for this epidemic.

As with other eating disorders, binge eaters have a greater risk of serious illnesses. They include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, gallbladder disease, and some types of cancer.

When Should I Get Help for Binge Eating?

If you feel sad, anxious, or depressed and eat enormous amounts of food to soothe your emotional state, talk with your health care professional about binge eating. Even if you don't have these feelings, but are 20% or more over a normal weight, your doctor may have some ways to help you control your eating and lose the excess weight. Obesity can lead to serious medical problems.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on July 25, 2012

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