Binge Eating Disorder Treatment

What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)?

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is the most common of the eating disorders. It affects approximately 3.5 % of adult women and 2% of adult men. There are similar rates across racial and ethnic groups. It is associated with obesity, depression and anxiety disorders and is more common in those with a history of childhood obesity and histories of significant psychological trauma.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) defines BED as:

Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:

  1. Eating, in a discrete period of time (within any 2 hour period) an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
  2. A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (a feeling that one cannot top eating or control how much one is eating).

The binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:

  1. Eating much more rapidly than normal.
  2. Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.
  3. Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry.
  4. Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating.
  5. Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward.

The binge eating occurs on average at least once per week for 3 months.

The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behavior as in bulimia nervosa and does not occur exclusively during the course of bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa.


We do not know the cause of Binge Eating Disorder and there are likely many factors that contribute. There are genetic contributions as well as environmental contributions. BED is more common in individuals with history of childhood obesity, and growing up in a home witnessing disordered eating patterns in a relative. Interestingly adult obesity is not a risk factor although often a complication of the disorder. Psychological tests have shown that the largest contributors are thought patterns in which there are over evaluation concerns regarding body shape and weight accompanied by a chronic sense of low self-esteem. Loneliness is also a large contributing factor.

Once the binge eating behavior is a pattern it becomes a continual loop of dysphoria, followed by the binge eating, followed by depressed mood and guilt which leads to the next episode of binge eating etc. There is recurrent overstimulation of the neurotransmitter dopamine which is the same thing happens with alcohol and drug abuse.

What can we do about Binge Eating Disorder?

The good news is that this disorder is treatable. Cognitive behavioral Therapy and Interpersonal therapy have been shown to be effective. There are medications that can be used to reduce the frequency of binge eating episodes. Treatment also involves dealing with the history of psychological trauma, depression, anxiety disorders and drug addictions, particularly marijuana. Multimodal treatment that involves a variety of therapeutic techniques is the most effective approach to this problem.

Binge Eating Disorder Treatment at Cottonwood

At Cottonwood we do have a specialty in treating Binge Eating Disorders. We provide a comprehensive physical and nutritional evaluation as well as exercise evaluation. We serve locally grown organic food; have cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, medications, EMDR, equine therapy, regular nutritional follow-up and a wide variety of body oriented treatments such as Somatic Experiencing, acupuncture, yoga, massage, biofeedback and Chi Nei Tsang. It is important to know that the Cottonwood Binge Eating Disorder program is not a weight loss program. While many can and do lose weight that is not our primary goal. Our main goal is helping individuals change their relationship with food from an addictive one to a healthy one.

We want our residents to learn new healthy ways of living, to improve self-esteem, improve relationships with others and help one to move to a happy and better quality of life.

If you have any questions or need additional information about our binge Eating Disorder treatment please call admissions at (800) 877-4520

Call for more information and daily rates:
(800) 877-4520

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