Binge Eating Disorder Treatment: Getting Started
Deciding to seek treatment for binge eating disorder is the first step toward getting better. Therapy can make you feel better about yourself and help you learn ways to stop overeating. Research shows that 70% of people who are treated for the disorder stop bingeing. That’s a higher success rate than for other eating disorders.
Here’s how to get started.
Step One: Talk to your doctor.
If you have a good relationship with your doctor, ask for a referral to a health care professional who specializes in eating disorders. You might feel embarrassed, but you shouldn’t. Chances are your doctor sees other patients who have it, too. Binge eating is the most common eating disorder.
Your doctor can also test you for other problems that may be related to your bingeing, like depression or anxiety, and weight-related issues like high blood pressure. Catching these things early can help prevent complications.
If you don’t want to discuss your bingeing with your primary care doctor, contact a psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorders. Major medical centers, hospitals, and eating disorder treatment centers are good places to find binge eating experts. The National Eating Disorders Association and the Binge Eating Disorder Association offer search tools that can help you find a specialist near you.
Step Two: Begin treatment.
Talk to your doctors and therapists about the type of treatment that would be best for you. There are several treatment options.
- Outpatient treatment involves regular therapy sessions for a few months. You do not need to stay overnight at a hospital or medical center. Experts usually recommend starting with this type of care. Most people with binge eating disorder do well with this therapy alone.
- Medications , are sometimes prescribed along with therapy. They may include stimulants, antidepressants, or anti-seizure drugs. The ADHD stimulant medication lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse) has proven effective in decreasing the desire to binge.
- Inpatient treatment is round-the-clock care at a hospital or medical center. This might be needed if you have other serious health problems that are related to your binge eating disorder, like severe depression or suicidal thoughts.
Step Three: Don’t worry about your weight.
Though your therapist or doctor will probably tell you this, it’s worth repeating: Don’t focus on your weight or go on a diet. Doing so raises the chances that you’ll binge. That’s because cutting back on calories or avoiding certain foods makes you feel deprived. Those feelings might make you want to overeat.
Step Four: Get support.
Connecting with other people who also have binge eating disorder can be helpful. You can do this by attending group therapy, finding an online support group, or even just chatting regularly with someone else who’s going through treatment. Having a “partner” to call when you have the urge to binge can help you stay strong. Hearing from other people who stopped bingeing can motivate you, too.
Step Five: Stick with it.
You may not see improvement in your first weeks of treatment. Know that most people reduce their bingeing within 6 weeks or so and continue to improve with time. If you stick with treatment and still don’t have the results you’re hoping for, don’t give up. There are many treatment options you can try. Sometimes, just switching therapists or going from individual therapy to group therapy can make the difference.