Binge eating disorder has been officially recognized now in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V- (DSMV). The DSM is a manual used by clinicians to classify mental health disorders. Binge Eating Disorder has been renamed as an actual disorder, rather than the generic catch all term Eating Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified) from the DSM IV. According to the DSM-V, binge eating disorder is characterized by these behavioral and emotional signs:
- Recurrent episodes of binge eating occurring at least once a week for three months
- Eating a larger amount of food than normal during a short time frame (any two-hour period)
- Lack of control over eating during the binge episode (feeling you can’t stop eating or control what or how much you are eating)
Binge eating episodes are associated with three or more of the following:
- Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
- Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry
- Eating much more rapidly than normal
- Eating alone out of embarrassment over quantity eaten
- Feeling disgusted, depressed, ashamed, or guilty after overeating
- Marked distress regarding binge eating is also present
- Binge eating is not associated with frequent inappropriate compensatory behavior, such as purging, excessive exercise, etc.
- Binge eating does not occur exclusively during the course of bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa
This change in DSM classification is significant since it brings to light the problem we have with acknowledging binge eating as a disorder that needs treatment. This is not about someone who over eats occasionally. This is part of a psychological process that can have a severe impact on someone’s life in ways other than the issue of weight, particularly one’s self-worth and self-esteem as well as the accompanying shame and guilt.
What should you do if you think you meet the criteria for a Binge Eating Disorder?
First, know that there is a solution. Seek services from a reputable clinician who is trained in Eating Disorder Treatment. Choose someone you trust and feel can help you. Make sure you feel comfortable with them. If the person is not a good fit for you, try someone else. Ask them for a consultation and ask them how they can help you. Beware of a one size fits all package; your needs might be different from another’s.
The DSM’s recognition that Binge Eating Disorder is a distinct mental health issue is a step in the right direction. This classification makes this illness more recognizable and I hope it will decrease some of the negative associations with binge eating. This new classification will give the community the option to get more information and services to help stop it.
Kim McLaughlin, MA is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in helping people with eating issues and eating disorders. She provides counseling in the Roseville and greater Sacramento CA area. If you are concerned that about overeating, weight or your use of food in general please contact her here.