Eating Disorders: Psychotherapy helps manage cravings

Eating Disorders: Psychotherapy helps manage cravings

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Binge eating disorder: Psychotherapy helps with recurring cravings

Health experts say that more and more people are suffering from eating disorders. Among other things, the binge eating disorder is very common. According to a new study, this can best be treated with psychotherapy.

Dramatic increase in eating disorders

There has been a dramatic increase in eating disorders in recent years. In particular, anorexia nervosa (anorexia) and bulimia nervosa (addiction to food) have increased significantly. But the so-called "binge eating disorder" (BES) is also on the rise. This leads to periodic food cravings with loss of conscious control over eating behavior. In contrast to bulimia, no countermeasures are taken afterwards, so that in the long term overweight is the result. According to a recent study, this eating disorder can best be treated with psychotherapy.

Recurring binge eating

In the event of a binge eating disorder, those affected suffer from regularly recurring eating bouts.

They eat significantly more food than normal within a short time, usually just a few hours, and feel like they are losing control over their eating behavior.

As a rule, these eating bouts are triggered by negative mood. The disease is often associated with low self-esteem, other mental disorders such as depression and obesity.

Various forms of therapy can be used to treat the binge eating disorder.

Comparison of the different forms of therapy

Scientist from Leipzig University Medicine under Prof. Dr. Anja Hilbert from IFB Obesity Diseases have now investigated how effective the various forms of therapy are.

In a large-scale meta-analysis, they compared the effects of various randomized-controlled studies.

"In the past decade, the number of studies on the treatment of binge eating disorder has almost doubled," explains Anja Hilbert, Professor of Behavioral Medicine at the University of Leipzig, in a statement.

"Our study summarizes and confirms, refines and extends previous findings from extensive meta-analyzes," says the scientist.

Psychotherapy proved to be highly effective

Psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, has been shown to be highly effective in treating eating attacks.

The patients treated with psychotherapy were therefore ten times more likely to no longer have eating bouts at the end of treatment compared to untreated control groups.

"The long-term success of the therapy was also demonstrable," explains Hilbert. Other forms of therapy performed worse.

Obesity behavior therapy for weight loss was significantly less effective in the treatment of eating attacks.

Structured self-help, in which those affected receive work materials and information about the binge eating disorder, had somewhat weaker effects than psychotherapy compared to untreated control groups.

Pharmacotherapy, for example with antidepressants, also proved to be less successful: compared to placebo groups, patients who had been treated with pharmacotherapy were twice as likely to no longer have eating bouts after the end of treatment.

The study results, which were published in the "Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology", are of great clinical relevance.

They have already found their way into the new scientific S3 guideline of the German Society for Eating Disorders (DGESS) on "Diagnostics and Therapy of Eating Disorders". (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Eating Disorder Treatment (June 2022).