Binge Eating: Treatment ABCs

Binge Eating: Treatment ABCs

There are well-researched treatments that have proven to be effective with binge eating. In this post, I’ll summarize the current state-of-the-art:

A) Research clearly indicates that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the place to start for most binge eaters. With CBT, a clinician helps clients recognize their personal triggers and how to interrupt them. Treatment with CBT typically takes about 20 weeks with once weekly sessions. I’ll write more about the nuts and bolts of CBT for binge eating in a future post.

B) Some patients benefit from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT is a well-researched treatment shown to be effective in building skills for self-awareness, self-soothing, emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. It can be helpful when factors that cause or perpetuate binge eating are identified—things like low self-esteem, difficulty coping with emotions or stress, and interpersonal difficulties. DBT skills are often taught and practiced in a group setting so that participants can support one another in learning and practicing.

C) Vyvanse®, the first (and currently only) FDA-approved prescription drug for binge eating, was approved in 2015 for use in patients with moderate to severe symptoms. The good news is that for some patients, Vyvanse® can be really helpful in curbing the urge to binge. The cautionary news is that Vyvanse®, a stimulant (like amphetamine), is a Schedule II controlled substance—which means it has high potential for abuse. There can be side effects like dry mouth, sleeplessness, and increased heart rate; it can be expensive, too, depending on insurance coverage. So it’s clearly not for everyone. I usually start clients with CBT and DBT before considering Vyvanse®.