The Impact Of Binge Eating Disorder On Mental Health
What is the impact of binge eating disorder on mental health?
This is a follow-up to my previous post on the physical impact of binge eating disorder and now we turn our attention to the mental impact.
I have touched on the mental impact of binges and binge eating disorder throughout my other content but I wanted to put it together in a single place.
And I’ll split this into two segments – the immediate and short-term impact and then the longer-term impact.
It can be difficult to separate out the mental and physical impact as eating disorders are mental health conditions that manifest physically. And then the mental side will have a physical impact. But I will try to focus on the mental health side.
At this point, I will add my normal disclaimer. I’m not a medical professional. I am not a mental health professional. I am not a dietitian. I am not in any way, shape or form, qualified to give specific medical or treatment advice.
Please do reach out to a qualified professional for advice around your specific circumstances.
Short-Term Or Immediate Impact Of Binge Eating Disorder
In the immediate period after a binge, you might feel a broad and varied (and intense) mix of emotions. And this will be different and unique for everyone.
Depression and low mood are common. You feel strong hate for what just happened to your body but you don’t see a way out or you don’t have an answer.
You might also feel regret – and this can happen both during and after a binge. You could feel like you shouldn’t have done that or you should have been able to stop yourself.
You might feel guilt and anger – disappointment or resentment that you let yourself or someone else down, or feeling like you should have been able to do better.
There could be some fear too – perhaps struggling with the idea that this cycle might never stop (please don’t let yourself believe this).
There could also be some shame, feeling like you’re not good enough or not strong enough. And then wanting to try and hide or deny how much food you ate as well.
And then, of course, a mixture of stress, anxiety, and sadness too.
Eating disorders all manifest differently for each individual, and emotions are different for everyone as well. So me listing out these emotions isn’t me saying you have to feel these or that you can’t feel anything else.
It’s very unique to you, your situation, and your circumstances.
And it is often important to just let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling and let the emotions flow through you. It’s something I am still trying to figure out how to do, so I don’t have much to offer on it but it can help to let your emotions out.
Here is a meditation that I sometimes use to help me with this.
Longer-Term Impact Of Binge Eating Disorder On Mental Health
When looking at the longer-term impact of binge eating disorder on mental health, we can focus on a few main areas.
But I just want to add again that any mental health condition can be felt or experienced very differently by each person, and each case is unique.
If none of these applies to you, or if you are experiencing other mental health effects from binge eating disorder then that is still perfectly valid.
One of the most common things that happen is an ongoing feeling of depression. It’s worth noting that depression can both cause and result from binge eating disorder.
Depression is experienced differently by everyone. It doesn’t mean a constant low mood or feeling sad all the time either. Your mood can still fluctuate. And a lot of the time we can try to mask our feelings by pretending to be in a better mood around others.
And honestly, that is physically and mentally one of the most tiring things you can do.
But with binge eating disorder, there can be a constant feeling of hopelessness, hatred of doing something you don’t want to do, and feeling a loss of control – and all of that weight on your mind can have a knock-on impact on your mental health.
You may also find yourself feeling anxious in social situations or trying to withdraw yourself and isolate away from other people.
The feelings that surround binges can make you feel uncomfortable in the presence of others.
And if you have seen a physical change in body shape from your eating disorder, such as weight gain, it can make you feel embarrassed to be around others too in case someone notices or mentions it.
Plus if you are dealing with digestive issues that can come from a binge, you again might not want to be in the presence of others as you’re dealing with that.
Binge eating disorder can also damage your relationship with food, which in turn can have a knock-on impact on your day-to-day life, your social life and on your relationships.
You may end up stigmatising certain foods. You may feel uncomfortable in situations where you’re not in control of the food (such as going to someone else’s house for dinner), or you could start to feel uneasy around food just generally.
The emotions tied to binges and binge eating disorder can also lead to increased feelings of trauma or exacerbate existing mental health conditions.
That cycle of binge eating, anger, guilt, regret, shame, depression, recovering, and repeating it, puts your mind and your body through a lot. So if you are dealing with anything else, it can be much more difficult to cope with.
It can be tiring. It can be traumatising. It can have a lasting impact.
Treatment And Help For Binge Eating Disorder
Pretty much every recommended treatment for binge eating disorder involves addressing the mental health side, and therapy and counselling are the most common recommendations.
If you are dealing with binge eating disorder, any eating disorder, or any mental health condition to be honest, please do get help if you can.
Don’t get me wrong – it is something you can try to work through yourself. I did. I didn’t want to ask for help. But if you can get help, please do.
Here are some excellent support resources:
If professional help is available to you, please make use of that.
If you have someone in your life that you feel comfortable opening up to – it could be a friend, family, colleague, or other associate – then please do that as well. You’re lucky to have someone like that you can speak to.
It might not be a magic cure or fix for binge eating disorder, but sometimes a hug and a listening ear can make a hell of a difference anyway.