By Dr Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Founder and CEO stem4
Whilst there is much publicity about anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa – both major eating disorders, there is not as much said about binge eating disorder – also a major eating disorder and one that is more commonly experienced than anorexia or bulimia. Binge eating disorder involves the regular eating of unusually and objectively large portions of food all at once until there is an uncomfortable feeling of fullness, feeling out of control of the eating with accompanying feelings of distress and guilt. The binge is generally always eaten in secret and usually ‘helps’ the person avoid or manage difficult emotions. Binge eating disorder affects both genders and can start at any age, usually more commonly in mid to late teens.
Binge eating disorder can be very distressing because not only does the condition make the sufferer dislike themselves but it may also lead to weight gain (or fluctuations in weight) with further loss of self-esteem. Binge-eating disorder can have many physical effects so it is recommended that you see your GP to check you out physically before they refer you for treatment.
The main treatment for binge eating disorder is cognitive behaviour therapy specifically modified for eating disorders. It should be offered by a specialist therapist in eating disorders and there are also a number of guided self-help programmes. Occasionally medication may also be prescribed to help with severe bingeing or to treat underlying low mood. Cognitive behaviour therapy for binge eating disorder focusses on helping you eat regularly; changes patterns of eating; helps identify underlying triggers and works on the causes in addition to providing alternative coping strategies, especially with regards regulating and managing difficult feelings.
Calm Harm is an app that helps manage self-harm behaviours. The underlying principle of the app is to help users manage difficult emotions by ‘surfing their urge to self-harm.’ It is based on a form of cognitive behaviour therapy called Dialectic Behaviour Therapy. Whilst the app isn’t eating disorder specific, the urge to binge that is triggered by underlying difficult emotions can be managed in the same way as the urge to self-harm, by ‘riding the wave’. Calm-Harm has close to 900,000 downloads from across the world. It’s a free download – why not give it a go?