For centuries, many psychological disorders had plagued mankind. Humanity has suffered from many psychological disorders such as anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and many more. One kind of disorder that rose in numbers in the twenty-first century are eating disorders. Eating disorders can be categorized into three types. Theses are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Of the three types of eating disorder, binge eating disorder is more complex when it comes to its symptoms and manifestations.
To further understand binge eating disorder, we must first understand what are eating disorders and what factors can affect people who manifest these kinds of disorder. Eating disorders are disorders of eating habits of individuals. According to social-cultural theorist, most eating disorders usually are common in cultures where the thinness of the body is considered attractive and more acceptable (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006). The factors that affect eating disorders can range from a person’s culture, environment, his/her family background, genealogy and biological factors.
In the three kinds of eating disorder, anorexia nervosa is a disorder where one refuses to eat to become fat. A common practice of anorexic patients is to purge their food when they felt that they had taken a lot of it (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006). The disorder is deadly and can kill almost 15 percent of its victims (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006). If anorexia nervosa is self-starvation, bulimia nervosa is binging or eating excessively then purging it through various methods. Now, we focus on binge eating disorder. If the two other eating disorder’s goal is to keep their body thin and slim.
Binge eating disorder is making the body fatter and overweight. The common practice of people with binge eating disorder is eating excessively when they feel anxious about something. They will eat out and eat as much food as they can even if they are not hungry. It sort of becoming their initial reaction to a stressor and becomes a habit (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006). The big difference in binge eating disorder than bulimia is that binge eating disorder victims don’t purge (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006). They don’t engage in behaviors that will cause them to vomit.
Binge sessions of victims are usually habitual and episodic. This means they engage in binging in a particular time. Studies have shown that people who are obese and over weight are common people with binge eating disorder (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006).. A study showed that 30 percent of people who undergo weight loss programs are actually having binge eating disorder. The peculiarity of this disorder is that even though this disorder is making the people unhealthy and obese, psychologist and health professionals think that having a binge eating disorder is better than having anorexia or bulimia.
Usually African Americans are more affected by this disorder than European Americans (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006). Similar to anorexia and bulimia, binge eating disorder is more common to females (Bierma, 1999). The disorder is associated with many disorders namely depression and anxiety (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006). People who have binge eating disorder have low self-esteem and want to eliminate their binging. They feel sickened by the thought of being fat and usually tries to undergo weight-loss programs and frequent tries in dieting. The problem is they can’t stop binging until they sought help from the professional.
Binge eating disorder as of today is still not counted as a formal eating disorder in DSM-IV by psychologists (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006). This is due to the fact that psychologists think more studies should be done to support and sanction the diagnostic of this disorder. The binge eating disorder can be found on the appendix of the DSM-IV for further study (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006). There are many causes why people get binge eating disorder. Many psychologists can attribute that the rise in eating disorders in our time is mainly due to our social norms (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006).
To further explain binge eating disorder, the factors that triggers this kind of behavior is needed to be understood. The most important fact we must know is that our society today has social pressures and norms. Many cultures put pressure to women to be slim and thin. There are cultural differences throughout the world. In places and time where wealthy people value heavier weight as more beautiful, eating disorder become less likely in the population. People in less developed countries view people with heaviness as beautiful because it shows that the person can afford to buy food and is wealthy (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006).
In America, the rise of fashion magazines that embraces beauty as something slim and skinny in the 90’s made many American teens more prone to become anorexic. The icons of beauty in a specific era also can predict the trends in eating behaviors in women. The cultural norms of attractiveness also affect people who can get eating disorder like binge eating (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006). If a person sees that becoming fat and gaining weight can help him achieve his desired level of attractiveness, he will try to eat more in order to gain weight.
Another deadly cause of binge eating disorder is that people who suffer from it view food as a way of coping to their negative emotions. In some cases, sexual abuse in the past can also trigger binge eating disorder because it raises the anxiety level of the person (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006). The cognitive reasoning of an individual also affects the development of binge eating disorder. As we discussed, binge eating disorder is an impulsive behavior. The victims usally act before thinking. This kind of impulse is hard to control and is hard to regulate on its own.
Biologically, people who suffer from binge eating disorder might have predisposition to depression (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006). Depression usually triggers the binge eating session and makes victims more susceptible to binge just to feel good again. Findings also show that irregularity in the hypothalamus in the brain could be a cause of binge eating disorder and other types of eating disorder (Lyness, 2006). Hypothalamus regulates our eating habit and feeling of hunger (Lyness, 2006). This part of the brain is where our body sends a signal if a certain nutrient is insufficient or excessive.
Another part of the brain which acts as relay centers of the message our body gives to the brain are neurotransmitters. Serotonin which is an important in cases of depression and anxiety plays a big role in eating disorders. Patterns of binging behaviors can stem from irregularities in serotonin (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006). Lastly, obesity which is found in most binge eaters is found in the genes (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006). This means that people are sometimes predisposed to be obese thus making them eat more. Binge eating disorder has many health consequences like gallbladder disorder, high blood pressure, diabetes etc (Unknown, 2005).