Binge eating disorder (BED) is a serious problem that many Americans face. If left untreated, it can prove fatal. People living with the disorder exhibit repetitive tendencies of eating large quantities of food items, lack of control while bingeing followed by shame and low self-esteem. Looking for an effective treatment method for BED becomes all the more important as an estimated 1.2 percent of the adult U.S. population suffers from the disorder during any given year.
A group of researchers looking for efficient ways to treat BED compared the efficacy of internet-based guided self-help intervention with the benefits obtained from individual face-to-face cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The researchers suggested that patients seeking fast recovery must choose face-to-face CBT. The study published online in the journal JAMA Psychiatry in August 2017 revealed that though the internet-based self-help program aided patients in binge eating with much lesser frequency, face-to-face therapy helped in more and greater level of reduction in instances of binge eating behavior.
The researchers haphazardly earmarked 178 overweight or obese patients suffering from BED to respond to a 20 face-to-face CBT sessions or 11 internet-based self-help sessions. A face-to-face CBT session lasted not more than 50 minutes. The duration of the treatment lasted four months.
The researchers observed that the participants during the initial phase of the study reported an estimated 14 days with episodes of binge eating during the past 28 days. By the time the treatment ended, binge eating episodes fell to only two days among those in the CBT group as against nearly four days in the self-help group. After six months of the treatment methods implemented, those in the self-help group reported roughly around five binge-eating days during the past 28 days in contrast to about three days among those in the CBT group.
A follow up of the patients for a year-and-a-half revealed no difference in binge eating control habits among participants of both the groups. Experts suggest that participants in the CBT group are more likely to respond better owing to it being more intense when compared with self-help, in addition to advice from professional therapists. Elaborating the same, the authors said, “Although CBT is considered to be the criterion standard treatment of (binge eating disorder), this intervention is not offered areawide, leading to delayed delivery of adequate treatment.”
Choosing recovery over fear
The findings of the study are important as they highlight the significance of CBT as opposed to self-help method. Though the observations could not help explain why CBT methods are more effective, they surely pave the way to treat mental health problems without prescribing medications that may result in adverse effects. The importance of self-help programs also cannot be ignored, particularly where CBT methods are not possible.
The stigma associated with mental health problems dissuades many people from seeking necessary treatment. Fear creeps into the mind of those who continue to believe that they would be discriminated against owing to their emotional disorders. However, mental illnesses like eating disorders can be treated with timely medical intervention.
Sovereign Health is a leading mental health caregiver in the U.S. and offers comprehensive treatment for BED at its eating disorders treatment facilities spread across the country. If you have a loved one suffering from an eating disorder and looking for treatment, call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online. Our treatment centers for eating disorders rank among the best in the country.