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Binge eating disorders are usually treatable and most people will eventually get better with appropriate help and support.
The main treatments are outlined below.
A self-help programme is often the first step towards recovery. There are many different types of self-help and it's important to find one that suits you. Your GP may be able to recommend a self-help book or a self-help group that would be suitable.
You can find out about self-help books at your local library or from the eating disorders charity Beat, which also has information about online support groups and peer support groups for eating disorders.
If you're referred to a mental health professional, they might encourage you to work through a self-help book under their supervision. This is called "guided self-help".
For some people, a self-help programme alone may be enough to help them overcome their eating problems.
You may be referred for psychological therapy to help tackle the underlying problems that cause you to binge eat.
The three main types of therapy used to help people who binge eat are:
These therapies can work very well, although it's not clear how long-lasting the results are.
You may experience periods where the problem improves (remission) and periods where it gets worse (relapses), particularly in the early stages of treatment.
SSRIs boost levels of a chemical in the brain called serotonin, which may help reduce the frequency of binges and lift your mood. However, the long-term effects of the treatment for binge eating are unknown.
Common side effects of SSRIs include:
Most of these side effects will usually improve within a few weeks, although some can persist.
Read more about the side effects of SSRIs.
The above treatments won't help you lose weight but, importantly, will help you stop gaining weight. Dieting isn't recommended during treatment because it makes it much more difficult to stop binge eating. Regular exercise alongside treatment may help you lose weight.
The treatments described above will typically include a plan to help with eating and exercise. Your plan may involve:
It's important that you lose weight healthily. Extreme dieting and cutting out meals can make binge eating worse.
If you're struggling to lose weight, talk to your GP or a weight loss management healthcare professional, such as a dietitian.