Eating disorders treatment center explains four reasons that acknowledgment of the most common and often misdiagnosed eating disorder will positively impact millions of men, women and children
Binge eating disorder (BED) will become an official mental health diagnosis this May when it is included – for the first time – in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the manual that mental health professionals use to diagnose and treat mental disorders. According to Eating Recovery Center, an international center providing comprehensive treatment for eating disorders, this shift has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life of individuals struggling with this devastating disease.
“BED has long been underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed as a mental health issue, due in large part to its classification as only a provisional eating disorders diagnosis in the DSM,” said Emmett Bishop, MD, FAED, CEDS, founding partner and medical director of outpatient services and program development for Eating Recovery Center. “The acceptance of BED as a recognized and treatable mental illness has the potential to lead to more access to care, open new avenues to insurance coverage and diminish the stigma that many of its sufferers have faced.”
BED is characterized by compulsive, out-of-control episodes of eating followed by shame, guilt and depression and is often accompanied by serious medical and psychiatric comorbidities. The most common eating disorder, BED affects as many as 3.5 percent of American women and 2 percent of American men.
To help healthcare providers and the general community better understand why this shift is so significant, Eating Recovery Center shares the top four reasons why BED’s inclusion in the DSM-V is a life-changing development for the millions of individuals struggling with this disease.
1. Better understanding and less stigma. With a clearly defined set of diagnostic criteria, healthcare professionals will be better able to help patients and families identify the issue and seek effective eating disorders treatment. In addition, the acknowledgement of BED as an officially recognized mental illness is likely to help families and friends understand that their loved one cannot simply “go on a diet,” “stop eating so much” or “sign up for Weight Watchers.” The underlying issues are much more complex.
2. Validation of BED symptoms. Not merely a casual description of occasional overeating, BED is a serious condition with clearly articulated diagnostic criteria. People with BED have learned to cover up negative feelings such as anger, sadness, boredom, stress or guilt through food. Binge eating behaviors can also be accompanied by an unhealthy preoccupation with body image, size and compulsive behaviors, including over-exercise or over-spending.
3. Increased access to eating disorders treatment coverage. Mental health parity laws require that coverage for treatment of biologically based mental illnesses, such as eating disorders, be no less extensive than the coverage provided for any other physical illness. Although the inclusion of BED as an official diagnosis in the DSM-V does not guarantee improved coverage, clinicians are hopeful that the change will further validate this illness and spur changes to insurance coverage standards that could improve access to BED treatment.
4. Less misdiagnosis among BED sufferers. Because BED is frequently misunderstood, it is not uncommon for clinicians to recommend patients to seek help for their weight issues at weight-loss or gastric bypass clinics. In reality, these individuals require binge eating disorder treatment to address their underlying relationship with food, eating and body image. In addition, BED is also often overlooked in individuals that are normal weighted due to widespread misperception that sufferers of BED must be overweight.
“For too long, people who have struggled with binge eating disorder have been stigmatized and misunderstood,” said Dr. Bishop. “The classification of binge eating disorder as an official mental illness will help us promote education, dismantle common misperceptions and help patients and families secure appropriate treatment that supports lasting recovery.”
In response to increasing demand for specialized binge eating disorder treatment, Eating Recovery Center offers comprehensive binge eating disorder programming. For more information about binge eating disorder treatment, visit EatingRecoveryCenter.com.