Binge-eating disorder is the commonest of the Eating Disorders but there is widespread misunderstanding about what it is and is not, and, unfortunately, it usually goes undiagnosed and untreated. In this article, I explain in a simple manner exactly what binge-eating disorder is and how it is much more than simply overeating.
Here, I have taken the DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria and simplified them a little to make them easier to digest (no pun intended).
To be called binge-eating disorder, the following three characteristics MUST be present. They relate to Quantity, Quality, and Distress:
1. Quantity: Eating a LOT more food in a short period of time than what other people would eat
2. Quality: Feels a lack of control over eating during the binge episode, i.e., cannot stop or even cut down on how much the person is eating
3. Distress: Marked distress about the binge eating
In addition, at least three of the following five characteristics should be present for binge-eating disorder to be diagnosed:
Eating a lot even when not feeling hungry
– Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
– Eating more quickly than usual
Physical: Eating until one is more than full, i.e., is physically uncomfortable
Psychological: After the binge-eating episode, the person feels disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty
How often and for How long?
For the problem to be called binge-eating disorder, the binge eating has to:
– Have occurred at least once a week
– Have been going on for at least 3 months
How is it different from bulimia nervosa?
In binge-eating disorder, the recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior is not present.
Binge-eating disorder: ICD-10 F50.8
Next, please read the following articles that explain how to screen for binge-eating disorder, specifically, and for Eating Disorders, in general.
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