(NewsUSA) - Many individuals who struggle with food and weight may be undiagnosed with the mental health illness of binge eating disorder (BED), according to a leading health pscychologist.
"The good news is that BED is highly treatable," says health psychologist Dr. Julie Friedman of Eating Recovery Center.
"The bad news is that most people have never heard of BED and have no idea how to get treatment," she adds.
BED is a disorder, not simply a lack of will power or inability to follow a diet, Dr. Friedman says.
"Unaware that they have a mental health disorder, binge eaters typically blame themselves, and the anxiety and stress associated with these negative thoughts can be considerable," she emphasizes.
According to Dr. Friedman, as many as 12 million individuals suffer from BED,
"Binge eating changes your brain in a way that makes your cravings for food and your urge to binge worse," says Dr. Friedman.
"Your dopamine receptors start to drop out because your body is overwhelmed by the amount of rewards you're getting in one sitting.
"As you lose more and more of these receptors, your body stops producing the dopamine hormone, so you're constantly looking for the next fix, which can only be satisfied by more bingeing," she explains.
"People think they can stop binge eating on their own, but unless the brain chemistry is addressed it's not really possible," she says.
Dr. Friedman identifies several signs that indicate that a binge eater needs professional medical treatment, including feeling out of control around food or "addicted" to food, binge eating at least once a week, eating large amounts before bed or during the night, and feeling guilty and depressed after binge eating.
To this end, traditional eating disorder treatment focuses more on restrictive patterns of eating, such as anorexia, while the Eating Recovery Center's Binge Eating Treatment and Recovery Program (BETR) focuses on restricting and binging.
"We have treatment centers across the country: the treatment program is tailored to treat BED patients," Friedman says.
"Our centers are all designed to be comfortable and accessible for patients of all weights, shapes and sizes with specialty furniture, medical equipment, and space planning designed to make any patient of any size feel at home."
"A team of physicians, therapists and dieticians not only treat the eating behaviors but also the underlying issues such as depression, anxiety, traumatic stress, and addictions such as compulsive shopping, gambling, or gaming,"?she adds.
BETR is covered by most major commercial insurance plans.
"BETR is a one-stop shop. We treat it all under one roof," she says.
Friedman adds that the outcome of treament gives patients new life and points to the following statistics:
* 83 percent report that they have fewer binge eating episodes per week;
* 88 percent report their lives are better;
* 91 percent say they manage stress better;
* 80 percent say they enjoy more satisfying relationships;
* 75 percent say they feel less anxious or depressed.
Visit BETRWorks.com for more information.