Treatment for binge eating disorder includes counseling and sometimes medicine. Goals in treating binge eating often include:
- Reducing your number of eating binges.
- Developing healthy eating and exercise habits.
- Dealing with shame or guilt about your eating disorder.
- Developing a healthy view of yourself and your body.
- Getting treatment for other conditions that you also might have, such as depression, anxiety, or health problems related to being overweight.
Most people with binge eating disorder need treatment, but many people who have an eating disorder try to keep it secret or deny that they have a problem. Some might join weight management programs to lose weight but do not seek treatment for binge eating or for mental health problems related to the condition. It often is a family member or friend who convinces the person to seek treatment.
If you think that you or someone you know might have an eating disorder, talk to your doctor. Signs of an eating disorder that needs treatment include binge eating, concern or embarrassment about eating behaviors, secretive eating habits, preoccupation with weight or body image, or an unhealthy body weight because of eating problems.
Several types of counseling can be useful in treating eating disorders.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy can help you control the urge to binge eat, especially when combined with nutritional counseling and a weight-reduction program.1 CBT often deals with learning how to eat a balanced diet, because this is important to recovery. Forming more regular eating habits can help reduce binge eating.
- Interpersonal therapyInterpersonal therapy. This type of therapy can help you examine any connection between your relationships, your emotional reactions to those relationships, and your symptoms of binge eating.
- Dialectical behavior therapyDialectical behavior therapy. This approach focuses on helping you manage emotions. By coping better with life's challenges and your emotions, binge eating behaviors may decrease. This type of therapy helps reduce binge eating that is related to stress.
Some medicines can be used to reduce the urge to binge eat. Examples include:
What to think about
Medicines and counseling may help you quit binge eating and lose excess weight. But this will take some time and patience. Some people find that they still have trouble losing excess weight, even after they stop binge eating. Talk to your doctor about what results are realistic to expect from treatment.
Unfortunately, many people don't seek treatment for mental health problems. You may not seek treatment because you are embarrassed about your eating, you think the symptoms are not bad enough, or that you can work things out on your own. But getting treatment is important.
If you need help deciding whether to see your doctor, read about some reasons why people don't get help and how to overcome them.