Can You Have a “Little” Binge Eating Disorder?

I have battled with my weight my entire life and was thin until I became pregnant with my first daughter. I followed the example of others around me at the time, twenty-seven years ago and I gained 70–yes 70 pounds when I was pregnant. The good news was that I lost it all minus 20 pounds, but then I became pregnant with my son and gained 50 more pounds and lost all of that minus 20 pounds. If you are dong the math, I am 40 pounds heavier. That is not that bad and I can work on it, but then it started. Mental illness struck very hard and I began taking more psychotropic medications–anti-psychotic medications which were the absolute worst for me.

Psychotropic medications caused me to gain weight from breathing it seemed like.

Today, once again I am presently attempting to lose weight. This is day #4 on my diet of eating little to no carbs. I am proud of myself. One day at a time. I must lose weight. This is the next big step in my continued recovery and mental health journey. Improving and maintaining good physical health must be part of my journey.

My life is improving in so many ways. It is time for me to conquer my weight battle. It is my next step in my recovery of mental illness. Carbs are my nemesis–my unfriendly frenemy. I love anything and everything with carbs, especially bread. The more bread or carbs I eat the more I want, want, want. This must end.

I have overcome so much, so why can’t I defeat my weight problem–the monster of a beast it is? Well, the answer is, I can and I will. It is time–the next step in my recovery journey. On our recovery journeys, sometimes we have to break down our obstacles one at at time-little by little, step by step, piece by piece. Keep focused on small parts and goals to get to the finish line of recovery. I am on a mission to lose weight, again.

Remember there is no real finish line of recovery. When you get better and reach your best, define a new best. Become the best you you can be and do it over and over again.

At times, I believe I have a little of this “Binge Eating Disorder” if it is possible to have it a little. I like to eat and have always been an emotional eater. If I was one of those people who could or would not eat when I was depressed or upset over the years, I would be so beautifully thin. However, it is the opposite for me and food has always been my comfort in times of distress.

New (back in May 2013) in the DSM-5: Binge Eating Disorder

written by Russell Marx

It’s official!  Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is now an actual eating disorder diagnosis in the DSM-5 which was released by the American Psychiatric Association in May 2013. DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This is the official “rule-book” of mental health diagnosis and is important so that everybody is using a common language when talking about a specific disorder.  The previous DSM-IV was released in 1994 and binge eating was only listed in Appendix B and had to be diagnosed with the non-specific “EDNOS” (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified).  In the past 20 years there have been over 1,000 research papers published that support the idea that BED is a specific diagnosis that has validity and consistency.

The key diagnostic features of BED are:

  1. Recurrent and persistent episodes of binge eating
  2. Binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
    • Eating much more rapidly than normal
    • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
    • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
    • Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
    • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating
  3. Marked distress regarding binge eating
  4. Absence of regular compensatory behaviors (such as purging).

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BED is the most common eating disorder in the United States. In adults it affects:

  • 3.5% of women
  • 2% of men
  • and up to 1.6% of adolescents [1].
  • In women it is most common in early adulthood but more common in men at midlife.
  • BED seems to affect blacks and whites equally.

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Comorbid problems are both physical and psychiatric.  Although most people with obesity don’t have BED, up to 2/3 of people with BED are obese and can have the medical difficulties associated with this condition. Compared with normal weight or obese control groups, people with BED have higher levels of anxiety and both current and lifetime major depression.

Effective evidence-based treatments are available for BED. These include specific forms of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT). Some types of medication can be helpful in reducing binge eating. These include certain antidepressants (such as SSRIs) and certain anticonvulsants (such as topiramate, which can also reduce body weight). All treatments should be evaluated in the matrix of risks / benefits / alternatives.

For more information on the specific changes to the DSM-5, please see the recent webinar entitled, “Eating Disorders in the DSM-5: Implications of Changes in the Diagnostics Categories and Criteria.” This webinar was moderated by B. Timothy Walsh, M.D. who headed the DSM-5 Eating Disorders Work Group, joined by Evelyn Attia, M.D. and Stephen Wonderlich, Ph. D., who were on the work group and currently serve as members of the NEDA Research Advisory Council.

[1] Swanson SA, Crow SJ, Le Grange D, Swendsen J, Merikangas KR. Prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in adolescents. Results from the national comorbidity survey replication adolescent supplement. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2011;68(7):714–723.

© Copyright 2018 National Eating Disorders Association

© 2019 Susan Walz | myloudwhispersofhope.com | All Rights Reserved

Living Well With Bipolar Disorder

1 in 4 Americans suffer from a mental disorder, and out of those millions of Americans, 5.7 million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder, characterized by erratic moods consisting of mania (an elated state of being) and the more familiar depressive episodes. I am one of those 5.7 million Americans.

Bipolar disorder is often considered the “artist’s disease,” from Sylvia Plath to Vincent van Gogh exemplifying the creative bursts of energy, severe depressions, and unstable highs and lows that come with the disorder. There is a range of creative treatments that safeguard mood stability, including traditional medications and therapies that are universally recommended to treat bipolar disorder. Often, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and psychotherapy are the first lines of defense, alongside a good support system, to prevent mania and depression. However, three simple life changes can safeguard against serious bipolar episodes and help those who suffer from bipolar disorder maintain a stable, healthy lifestyle.

Early to Bed, Early to Rise – Healthy and Wise

Sleep is perhaps the most important preventer of manic relapses and a strong source of mood stability. Bipolar disorder is directly related to insomnia. The fewer people with bipolar disorder sleep, the more likely they are to become manic. The Center for Disease Control recommends seven hours of sleep daily for adults. Having a healthy sleep routine, such as an established bed time and avoidance of caffeine after 2:00 PM can help people with bipolar disorder achieve a good night’s rest. As someone who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has worked for years to combat insomnia, I have found that turning off screens (from televisions, phones, computers, tablets, etc.) an hour before bedtime and having a strong sleep routine where I turn in around the same time each night works wonders. If insomnia persists, one can talk to a doctor about sleep aids available by prescription and consider using Melatonin or a Circadian rhythm stabilizer (available over-the-counter).

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Exercise is another great mood booster, especially during depressive episodes and to combat the side effects of bipolar medications that often cause weight gain. The NIH recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. When you are active, dopamine floods your brain and gives you feelings of happiness similar to a runner’s high. This is especially important for bipolar disorder sufferers, whose serotonin levels are often imbalanced. However, staying active can be a challenge during depressive lows. I like to hike or cycle, which leaves me feeling satisfied and helps keep the pounds off from medicine. Find an activity you enjoy, whether it is biking or running, and watch as your mood improves.

Nourishing Your Brain, Nourishing Your Soul

Finally, good nutrition is directly linked to mental health, especially for those with bipolar disorder. Nourishing one’s body with healthy foods like whole grains, veggies, and lean meats, while reducing intake of fatty and sugary foods, and using probiotic supplements can improve mental health, buffering mood swings. I rediscovered my love of cooking healthy meals and have seen vast mood improvements since choosing a diet that works for me, specifically the low carb diet. Perhaps the Mediterranean or vegetarian diets will suit you? Experiment with food groups you like and remember to take probiotic supplements for a happy gut and brain.

Your brain, body, and emotions are all linked, bipolar or not, and with these healthy lifestyle changes, supplemented by the proper medication and therapy, bipolar disorder patients can not only survive but thrive.