A Long Standing Eating Disorder Finally Makes its Debut

Mental health clinicians will use the new edition, referred to as the DSM-5, as a reference to make accurate psychiatric diagnoses.

In the DSM-IV-TR (the prior edition of this manual), the condition known as Binge- Eating Disorder was not a formal diagnosis; it was considered a diagnosis for further study. For countless years people have been suffering from the symptoms of this diagnosis, which was not considered a true diagnosis, and could only be classified under the general heading, Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

According to the current DSM-5, Binge-Eating Disorder is characterized by binge eating episodes that occur at least once per week with duration of at least three months. A binge-eating episode is eating more than an average person would eat in a discrete period of time, feeling out of control while eating, eating faster than normal, and eating past the point of feeling full. Some individuals will only binge when alone because of feeling shame and embarrassment and most individuals have regret after the binge-eating episode is over.

Binge-Eating Disorder shares similar criteria with Bulimia Nervosa. In Bulimia Nervosa, the binge episodes are followed by a behavior that will compensate for the excess food intake. The compensatory behavior may be purging, restricting food intake or exercising excessively. However, in Binge-Eating Disorder, there is no compensatory behavior.

Treatment options include group therapy, individual therapy and psychiatric medications. Group therapy can be helpful as individuals receive peer emotional support and compare different coping strategies. Individual therapy targets making emotional connections to the triggers for binge eating. Once these emotional triggers are identified, strategies for better behavioral reactions can be implemented. Psychiatric medications focus on rectifying the underlying emotional states that trigger these eating behaviors.

The addition of new diagnoses in the DSM-5 increases awareness and recognition of clinical issues that have otherwise been overlooked. This text continues to be a work in progress and as advances in mental health occur, future editions of this manual will hopefully continue to reflect them.

Jennifer Serrentino MD
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