3 Effective Treatment Programs for Binge Eating Disorders

May 7th 2016

Binge eating disorder, like all eating disorders, can be very difficult to treat. However, with a dedicated team of professionals and the right approach, recovery is possible.


Most binge eating is rooted in other psychological problems. Many people with BED suffer from depression or feel like they are not in control of their lives. Some experience social isolation, or they grew up in a home with unhealthy eating habits. Stress is also highly linked with binge eating. As a result, interpersonal therapy is often one of the most effective ways to treat it.

The type of therapy used can vary depending on the individual root causes, as well as what the patient responds to best. Cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a practical therapy focused on changing harmful thoughts and behaviors as they arise, is useful for many people with BED. Dialectical behavioral therapy, which combines CBT with mindfulness practice, often leads to a greater level of self-acceptance and stress management. For people whose eating disorders have roots in family or social issues, family therapy or talk therapy focused on building a strong social network may be best.


Although there is no pill that can completely cure BED, some medications do have a positive effect in some patients. Antidepressants are often one of the first medications used, because they target the underlying cause in many people.

Some people also benefit from drugs targeted at unrelated diseases. Lisdexamfetamine, which is sold under the brand name Vyvanse, is a drug that helps people with attention deficit disorder. It has also shown some promise in helping people reduce and manage binge eating cravings. An anti-seizure drug called topiramate, or Topamax, has a similar effect. However, both of these drugs have the potential for serious side effects.

Nutrition Counseling

Many people with BED never learned healthy eating habits in the first place. The disorder is also often linked with obesity, although sufferers can be of average weight as well. Obesity often results in low self-esteem and poor body image, so losing weight helps some people feel better and may reduce the symptoms of BED.

A Multifaceted Approach

A mixed approach is usually best for treating BED. Patients can receive intensive therapy sessions as well as nutrition counseling, and may take medication at the same time. This typically involves a team of doctors, including therapists, psychiatrists, general practitioners and nutrition experts. For this reason, many people find an inpatient stay at a rehab facility dedicated to eating disorders beneficial. People do also find success with outpatient therapy, especially if they devote plenty of time to it.


Binge eating disorders are characterized by regular and compulsive overeating. Unlike people suffering from bulimia, people with BED do not purge after eating. They often binge in secret and feel deep guilt and shame over their eating, which makes this disorder difficult to treat. However, there are some successful treatments available.

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