Compulsive eating disorder

What is compulsive eating disorder?

Someone with compulsive eating disorder consumes large amounts of food, often in secret, until they feel uncomfortably full. The condition can get worse if left untreated and usually does not get better on its own. It affects physical as well as mental health, as obesity and other medical problems including diabetes or joint problems may develop as a result, as well as psychological problems such as depression.

What are the causes?

Binge eating often starts in the late teenage years. The causes are not clear but the condition often runs in families and it can be triggered by stress, low mood, poor body image, boredom, poor self-esteem or even past excess dieting.

It is important that anyone who may be suffering from compulsive eating disorder is properly assessed by either a GP or by a mental health professional, so that the relative contributions of psychological problems and diet can be determined. Sometimes binge eating and obesity can occur as a feature of other psychiatric conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, bulimia and ADHD, which may need treating in their own right.

What is the treatment for eating disorders?

Once compulsive eating disorder has been diagnosed, a plan to manage and treat the condition can be devised to take into account individual preferences and needs. This might take the form of guided self-help, psychological interventions or antidepressant medication.

Discussing the problem with a friend, writing a diary or joining a support group (such as b-eat) can all help. Guidance on meal planning, reducing the availability of certain foods and finding healthy ways of living can also be effective ways of treating the condition.

Compulsive eating disorder can also be addressed with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or other psychological therapies. These can help to improve self-confidence, body image and to build self-esteem.

Binge eating is a distressing condition with potentially serious health implications if it goes undiagnosed and untreated. All the consultant psychiatrists at Private Psychiatry are highly experienced in treating the condition. If you think you or someone close to you may be suffering from compulsive eating disorder, please get in touch.


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